Dozens of Quad-City employers got a look Tuesday at how their workers, including tomorrow’s employees, could get their education and training in a virtual world and in the not-so-distant future. Eastern Iowa Community Colleges’ new Virtual Reality Interactive Digital Center in downtown Davenport — part of a partnership between the district and EON Reality, opened its doors to begin conversations with area employers.

Visitors heard from experts about how virtual reality, or VR, and augmented reality, or AR, technologies are already reshaping health care, manufacturing and education — particularly in the area of training.

“We want to educate the community about what VR and AR is and how it may be implemented into their institutions, organizations or companies,” said Joshua Drake, Eastern Iowa’s VR Training Initiatives project manager.

Drake surmised that for most of the nearly 130 visitors, it might have been their first exposure to virtual reality, though their children may already use it in their video games. “I bet if they have kids, they have it in their own homes and have never played with it.”

But participants had the chance to experiment with the center’s VR/AR equipment to see the benefits of a virtual world.

Helping to demonstrate the EON Icube Mobile unit, Joe Cheben discussed how the portable, multi-sided immersive environment — in which a user could step into a virtual reality — could be used to “show a mechanic 100 different ways to repair an engine.” The 3D model could simulate any number of training situations for a variety of industries.

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