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MIT Technology Review

Walmart will use VR headsets to train all its US employees

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By the end of the year, it plans to have more than 17,000 Oculus Go headsets in use to help train workers.

By the numbers: Next month, the company will begin sending four headsets to every Walmart supercenter and two units to every Neighborhood Market and discount store in the US. That doesn’t sounds like many, but Walmart is sending them to 4,700 stores, meaning a pretty big bulk order.

What they will be used for: The headsets will train associates in everything from operating new technology on the shop floor to soft skills like empathy and customer service.The actual teaching content has been designed for the retailer by startup Strivr.

Some background: Walmart has been testing out virtual reality for a while. It’s used the technology in its Walmart Academy training centers and to prepare its employees for Black Friday. In advance of this larger rollout, 10 stores used VR over the summer for training workers on new devices that let customers automatically pick up their orders in a store.

Scaling up: So far, Walmart is a rare success story for VR. The retailer is investing in something virtual reality has struggled with: scale. This deployment of thousands of Oculus Go headsets for training could act as a proof of concept for other big corporations.

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