This is a case study from ITI, they were finalists in the category of VR Education and Training of the Year at the second annual VR Awards. Here, they talk us through the process of creating high-quality training experiences in VR. Learn how VR makes training cheaper, quicker and more efficient.
Simulators have been at the backbone of highly specialized, complex professionals’ training programs for decades. Industries such as Aviation, Law Enforcement, Aerospace, and Military rely on simulations to expose their team members to dangerous and sometimes life-threatening situations without putting them in harms’ way. With specialized niche industries proving that simulation training is valuable, why hasn’t it spread to a larger scale? Several the shortcomings of legacy simulation training (i.e. Screen- Based) are addressed by the advent of Virtual Reality (VR) Technology and allow for a scalable training simulation solution for industries across the board.
Legacy simulation options have existed in the crane and heavy equipment space for more than thirty years; however, three distinguishing factors have prevented widespread adoption, and have severely limited their value:
1. 2D – We see the world in 3 dimensions thanks to the “stereo vision” supplied by having two eyes. This allows for depth perception and the ability to focus on objects both near and far. Any object rendered on a flat screen, like a computer monitor or even a High Definition TV screen, is only visible in 2D. So, how beneficial is it to learn a skill that entails an incredible amount of depth-perception (like say, crane operations), on a two-dimensional screen?
2. Legacy simulation has historically been limited to a very small percentage of the workforce in highly specialized industries because frankly – its big, bulky, and hard to implement, which has a huge effect on adoption. 3. Not only do legacy simulators offer a poor user experience, they come with a high price tag! Big upfront costs (high entry barrier) and even more costs to add new content.
ITI VR leverages the advances in virtual reality technology to address the three main drawbacks to legacy simulation options, and more.
The Methodology and Research Process
ITI launched a survey at the end of June 2016 to learn more about the potential of VR simulator use in the crane and rigging industry as a training tool. The survey closed Friday, July 15, with more than 600 individuals completing it in its entirety.
Methodology: The survey was presented as open to the public, with no restrictions on participation. The survey link was emailed to 30,000+ in the ITI Database, was shared in crane and rigging groups on social media and was shared through various channels by other industry partners. Survey respondents were grouped into three categories by selecting the statement that they most identify with from the following:
- I operate mobile cranes.
- I do not operator mobile cranes but work closely with people who do.
- I do not operate mobile cranes and do not work closely with people who do.
All groups were asked the same questions. There was one subcategory and subset of additional questions that applied only to those individuals whose companies currently use a mobile crane simulator.
Here’s What We Found
- 76% of survey respondents feel a VR Simulator would be at least “Somewhat Likely” to be a useful training tool.
- 11% of survey respondents are part of an organization that currently utilizes a crane simulator.
- “New Operators” would be the group that benefits most from increased simulator use.
- Nearly half of the respondents have not considered using simulators.
Let’s Talk Deliverables
Development of ITI VR was a joint project between ITI and Serious Labs, Inc. (SLI). ITI subject matter experts (trainers & consultants) and business team worked with a dedicated team of developers from SLI, who brought deep expertise in the “serious game” genre, as well as virtual reality experiences. Oculus Rift was selected as the official VR headset for ITI VR, and the idea became a reality in March 2017 at CONEXPO.
Teams from ITI and SLI set out with the goal of overhauling the mobile crane simulator business with three main objectives: provide an incomparable, totally immersive user experience. Remove barriers to entry with a subscription model and low capital costs and open up simulator training to all applicable team members by making access and utilization simpler than ever before.
ITI VR accomplished these deliverables through the following features:
- Growing Course Library: In addition to the initial simulations available in the library, future planned simulations include overhead cranes, tower cranes, rigging, and assembly/disassembly of cranes.
- Equipment: The ITI Mobile Crane Simulator leverages the technology of VR to allow a fully immersive experience that lays two inches away from the user’s eyes.
- Desktop & Motion-Base Stations: Two hardware models are available a fully mobile desktop version and an immersive, though still mobile, Motion-Base Simulator.
- Learning Management & LMS Integration: Integrate ITI VR training with your current learning management system enabling employee training paths, and could be used for candidate screening, operator qualification, and record keeping.
The CONEXPO launch of ITI VR can only characterized as a massive success, with interest in the innovative training solution coming from multiple industries and countries across the globe. Notable subscribing organizations to date include:
- US Naval Shipyard (multiple locations)
- International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) (multiple locations)
- Los Alamos National Laboratory
- United Rentals
What’s Next for VR for Training and Education?
VR is well-positioned to play a leading role in the education and training sector in the next few years. We’re seeing a huge amount of high-quality training experiences being produced and more investment going toward the sector. In a wider sense, it seems like VR has gone beyond gaming and is being recognised as an affordable and effective enterprise solution.