This restaurant is using a virtual reality app to train its employees

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Restaurants around the country are trying to cope with the increasing costs of employment as minimum wages, health care expenses and other employee benefits continue to put pressure on their profits. Many are investing in technologies, such as self-serve kiosks and automated kitchen equipment, to eliminate some hourly jobs and control their labor costs.

But it seems that there’s another technology that may also help restaurateurs keep their employees particularly new ones, better trained and more productive. It’s virtual reality.

Honeygrow, a Philadelphia-based chain of Asian-fusion food has partnered with a local interactive art studio called Klip Collective to create a customized VR app that helps to solve a big problem: train new employees better and faster. The app is designed to show new employees how to do their jobs, using live action, 3-D animations and an interactive game. More information about the technology used to create this app can be found on Klip’s blog.

According to a recent report from Road to VR, new employees at Honeygrow are equipped with a Google Daydream headset and controller that has specialized remote controls for their interactions. Hundreds of internal restaurant scenes were captured on a specialized Nokia camera that have been preloaded into the application. The result is a high-technology simulation that can be used on any Google Android device, where the employee is thrown into a “near 1:1 ideal” of what their job would be like. Mistakes can be made without recourse and new hires can become intimately familiar with the tasks they will need to perform as if they’re actually doing them.

Getting new employees up to speed with their responsibilities takes precious time and resources. Most restaurants, particularly smaller ones, have little choice but to let new hires learn on the job, and absorb the costs of their mistakes. Virtual Reality apps like the one Honeygrow is using may significantly change this dynamic in the not-so-distant future.

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