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Crane lifters get lifted into the air within a virtual reality environment

Budding crane operators from Alberta are learning how to get in grips with their machinery in a very unique manner. Virtual reality (VR) simulation tools, which are often used with video game applications, are being used for dispersing this new form of training

Edmonton-based software firm Serious Labs has entered a partnership with US-based instruction design and training company, Industrial Training International Inc. (ITI), for bringing virtual reality-based simulators for training aspiring operators. The VR simulators will teach the aspirants how to make use of their equipment, without being strapped onto the machines as they would be in real-life.

A motion-based platform can be used for utilising the VR software, with the participant sitting in an operating chair. Using responsive hand controls, foot pedals and a motion-based platform, the simulator setup can offer a realistic experience of being inside a crane-cab and handling the crane.

Simulators have been used for training operators of cranes and other heavy machines for many decades now. Yet, till now, the visuals could only be displayed across screens. The VR technology was developed to form a link between theoretical learning and full-fledged hands-on training.

The virtual reality-based immersive training experience, creates various benefits when compared to the older forms of training technology. – Jim Colvin, the CEO of Serious Labs.

Colvin elaborated regarding the development, stating that with the use of virtual reality, crane operators are able to practice safely and effectively. He also shed light on the VR experience being more cost-effective than having to set up cranes for training activities. Another advantage is that the new technology can track and evaluate all actions and movements of aspirants.

Serious labs in game image

Serious Labs is able to teach complicated principles of physics of heavy equipments within virtual environment with the use of VR.

Colvin further states that contrary to popular perception, Edmonton is an ideal location for the development of such a high-tech VR application. He references the expansive community of game developers in the city, hinting at its diverse talent pool.

Zack Parnell, CEO and president of ITI, explained that virtual reality is finding wide-scale usage in the aspects of training operators of cranes and other equipments. Parnell had approached Serious Labs back in 2016, and pitched a proposal for the company to collaborate with ITI for the development of a set of simulated training offerings.

The joint venture of Serious Labs and ITI has led to as many as seven simulated training courses for overhead, tower and mobile crane machinery. By 2020 end, the companies hope to have 10 to 20 different modules.

Parnell stated that the requirement of advanced training methods for cranes and other heavy equipments was always significant. He remarked that virtual reality is improving prospects of training tenfold, as compared to the old simulation technology instances. VR training is also costing less money in the long run.

The virtual reality platform can also be used on a desktop or mobile device.

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