. . . putting its workers through a bizarre initiation rite: a creepy BioShock-esque virtual reality “escape room” replete with narration from an omnipresent, mildly demonic-sounding Colonel Sanders.
We’re not sure it’s an actual employ training program and neither was Tyler Wilde at PC Gamer. He called around to a few stores and no one had heard of any VR training. But he was talking to current employees, not new hires.
Then Yum! Brands (which owns KFC) contacted Wilde, forwarded a press release, and said the program is coming.
KFC will use the VR simulation to supplement its robust, multi-step employee training program, called Chicken Mastery Certification, which provides detailed eLearning and hands-on training for cooks in each of KFC’s kitchens.
We’ll reserve judgment until we see more evidence, but KFC may be jumping on the virtual reality train.
Of course, the idea is not entirely new. Walmart is rolling out VR training for continuing employees and other companies are experimenting with training simulations using immersive technologies. It currently remains a challenge since users with high-end headsets usually require an assistant. And there’s usually only a few headsets available.
But as the hardware gets easier and AR comes into its own, it will take off. And when AI is incorporated into virtual reality, the simulations will be a game-changer. Employees will be able to make mistakes, try out high-pressure scenarios (eg., Black Friday), and work through highly realistic customer simulations.
KFC’s VR Training
Here’s the description from Eater.
In order to get out of the virtual escape room, employees will have to play as a pair of disembodied hands to demonstrate (virtual) mastery of the five-step cooking process — inspecting, rinsing, breading, racking, and pressure-frying — all the while being cajoled by a cackling Colonel.
Right now, it sounds more like something you’d find on the Steam VR Store, not a corporate training program. On the other hand, for a younger generation that will grow up in virtual reality, this will seem commonplace.
Here’s the video – just be ready for the weirdness of it all.
Is KFC is having a little fun with us or taking a surreal stab at innovation? We’ll update you if we hear more.
Emory Craig is a writer, speaker, and VR consultant with extensive experience in art, new media, and higher education. He speaks at global conferences on innovation, education, and ethical technology in the future. He has published widely and worked with the US Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Living at the intersection of learning, games, and immersive storytelling, he is fascinated by AI-based avatars, digital twins, and the ethical implications of blurring the boundaries between the real and the virtual.