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What Are Interactive 3D Instructions?

Interactive 3D instructions can be a game-changer for your company. Here's what you need to know.

What Are Interactive 3D Instructions?

Manufacturing, retail, repair, healthcare, hospitality—these are just some of the industries in which it is critical for workers to have high-quality instructions for assembling, maintaining, or using a product. In today’s high-tech environment, one of the most powerful and cost-effective means of meeting that need is by use of interactive 3D instructions.

 Interactive 3D instructions leverage advanced computing and display technologies to provide users with step-by-step guidance based on a computer-generated, 3D model of a real-world object or process. According to a Harvard Library article, 3D representations of objects “offer realistic access to primary source material — the things themselves.”

Users have complete freedom to visually inspect and interact with that model to enhance their understanding of how it is structured and functions. For example, they can rotate the 3D model to any angle, and then zoom in to see a close-up view of any part of it.

When it comes to meeting the demand for high-quality instructional resources, interactive 3D instructions are a state-of-the-art solution that provide a quantum leap in effectiveness over previous approaches, such as video presentations or 2D paper or computer text manuals. Let’s take a closer look at why.

How Interactive 3D Instructions Work

Perhaps the first thing to understand about interactive 3D instructions is what the “3D” does not refer to. If you’ve seen the original Star Wars movie, you may remember the famous scene in which the droid R2D2 projects a holographic image of Princess Leia pleading, “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi.” When it comes to advanced 3D instructions, details that go beyond this well-known image are at our fingertips.

Instead of floating, hazy holographic portrayals, today’s 3D visual technology manipulates color, shading, lighting, and perspective to create a highly detailed 3D representation of an object on a 2D surface such as a computer display or mobile device screen. In the case of 3D instructions, touchscreen interactions can be employed to allow users to directly manipulate the object being viewed.

The interactive 3D instructional environment can be created by converting CAD images and specifications, along with text-based instructional material, into a fully interactive, immersive, virtual space in which users can view, pinch, zoom, rotate, and maneuver around a 3D image to gain a comprehensive understanding of its structure and operation. 

Animation can be used to highlight how various components fit together, and a step-by-step narrative can be provided to guide users through any necessary sequential steps. When combined, these kinds of advanced instructions provide a multi-sensory experience that improves both understanding and success for any user.

The Pitfalls of Inadequate Product Instructions 

This is an age in which both workers and consumers expect a high degree of technological sophistication and customer service excellence on the part of the companies they interact with. When companies fail to provide high-quality instructions for their products, they are likely to suffer some highly negative consequences, such as:

  • Reduced Productivity: The pace of production is slowed when workers struggle to understand and implement incomplete or unclear instructions.
  • Increased Errors: When workers are confused or even misled by subpar assembly or installation instructions, the inevitable result is defective products, more rework, elevated production costs, and a higher rate of product returns.
  • Diminished Safety: Inadequate assembly or use instructions increase safety risks for both workers and consumers and bring liability risks for the company.
  • Reduced Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty: Recent research indicates that most customers consider having clear product instructions to be “very important.” Not having such instructions leads to such frustration and dissatisfaction that 77% say it would cause them to not buy that product again.
  • Higher Support Costs: Low-quality instructions directly lead to a higher level of customer support requests and associated customer service costs.
  • Tarnished Brand Reputation: Not only do end users who were forced to struggle with inadequate instructions lose respect for the brand, but in this age of easy access to online product review sites, they are very likely to pass their experiences and opinions on to others.

On the other hand, when companies provide high-quality, multi-faceted, comprehensive instructions, especially for operations involving building, installing, or assembling products, both worker morale and customer satisfaction are positively affected. 

Such instructions provide a roadmap that breaks down complex tasks into easy steps. By eliminating ambiguity, guesswork, and confusion, they save immense amounts of time and minimize frustration for both workers and customers.

How 3D Instructions Raise the Bar for Quality

Interactive 3D instructions provide a significant advance over traditional instruction methods. For example, instructional text manuals in printed or digital form are still widely used, but they’re often difficult to understand, search, or update. The information presented is static and usually fails to adequately cover perspectives an individual may need to fully comprehend the process or product being studied.

Video tutorials can also be frustrating because they don’t allow users to zoom in, shift perspective, or manipulate the image to show exactly what they need to see to understand how a component functions or is assembled. And the necessity of continually stopping, rewinding, and restarting the video to manually repeat a sequence until it’s understood can be extremely time-consuming and frustrating.

Interactive 3D instructions, on the other hand, not only overcome these issues but also offer additional benefits that help to increase user engagement and satisfaction. For example, the use of rotatable 3D imagery rather than static images has, as one research report puts it, “a positive effect on affective, cognitive, as well as behavioural user responses.” Let’s take a look at what this research finding means on a practical level:

  • When users are presented with 3D images that they can manipulate at will in real time and view from the specific perspectives they desire, it generates positive emotional reactions (“affective responses”) by giving the user a sense of psychological engagement and empowerment.
  • The combination of step-by-step guidance along with a manipulable 3D model that the user can zoom in on and rotate as desired at each step of the process enhances the user’s ability to simplify apparent complexities and understand the structure and components of the 3D model and how they relate to one another (“cognitive responses”).
  • The ability to manipulate the 3D image as needed can also drive increased interactions with the model, as users will typically spend more time exploring and experimenting than they otherwise would (“behavioral responses”).

A further advantage of these advanced instructions over traditional approaches is that they more easily accommodate the specific learning styles of each individual. Whether the person is a visual learner who absorbs information most easily from visual representations, an auditory learner who comprehends best by listening, or a kinesthetic learner who learns by experiencing, touching, and doing, an interactive 3D instructional process is far more likely to tap into that individual’s preferred learning style than is a canned text, audio, or video presentation.

Whatever a person’s dominant learning style, scientific examples of the cognitive theory of learning declares that learners can more easily understand and retain information about an object or process when they directly interact with it. And that, as we’ve seen, is exactly what modern 3D instructions allow them to do.

The Unique Benefits of Interactive 3D Instructions

The right software for interactive 3D instructions provides unique advantages that cannot be matched by more traditional instructional approaches. These include:

  1. Universal Accessibility: Users can access 3D interactive instructions using any web-enabled touchscreen device, such as a smartphone or tablet. Instruction is delivered using a mobile application that, once downloaded, can be accessed without using a WiFi connection.
  2. Greater Flexibility: Because the process is interactive, users can customize their experience.
  3. Increased Product Familiarity: Users can explore the product virtually, viewing CAD-generated animated 3D models from any angle by rotating the image, and zooming in on specific components. This provides an immersive experience that helps users develop a comprehensive understanding of the product, its structure, and how it operates.
  4. Reduced Errors: The ability to comprehensively view and manipulate the 3D models representing the product helps users grasp complex assembly or operational procedures more easily, thereby minimizing the chances for errors during the manufacturing, assembly, or maintenance processes.
  5. Faster Time to Completion: The high degree of control and interactivity 3D interactive instructions provide gives users control over the process. They can proceed at their own pace, with the ability to go repeat steps, go back to previous steps, or move forward when they’ve mastered the current information. The result is that they learn and become skilled more quickly than with traditional instructional methods.
  6. Seamless User Experience: The interactive nature of the process allows users to essentially customize the experience according to their own preferences.
  7. Higher Installer/Customer Satisfaction: There’s nothing more frustrating to both installers and customers than confusing or incomplete assembly or installation instructions. On the other hand, when the instructional presentation is easy to understand and follow, both worker morale and customer satisfaction increase.
  8. Real-Time Updates: Manufacturers can modify the instructional regime as needed in near-real time. Plus, they can track aggregated time-in-step data to surface any instructional issues that might require an update for correction.
  9. Cost Savings: The bottom-line impact of all these benefits is lower overall costs for the entire instructional process.

Implement the Best Interactive 3D Instruction Software and See the Benefits

Most companies are not equipped to implement advanced, interactive instructions on their own. The best approach is to partner with an organization that specializes in that process. BILT is a leading 3D instructions company that converts manufacturer’s CAD, paper instructions, or other instructional material into fully interactive, cloud-based 3D instructions

Once that’s done, users need only download the BILT app to their device, search for their particular brand or product, and begin the instructional process. If you’d like to explore how interactive 3D instructions can be a game-changer for your organization, contact us to get started.

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