Feb 24, 2017
Industrial Training International (ITI), along with software developer Serious Labs, has created the virtual reality (VR) mobile crane simulator to re-invent industrial training. The companies are working on a hardware-based system that will be available in two versions, desktop and motion-base. Both configurations use an oculus rift headset, a laptop, and two anchored controllers (a total of four joysticks) to recreate the training experience. For example, it can be used to recreate the operation of a massive construction crane.
The system, which was announced last September, aims to replace expensive and bulky simulators that are currently used for industrial training. The desktop simulator weighs approximately 30 lbs. (closer to 70 lbs. with carrying case) and will be sold “at-cost.” ITI is not looking to profit from the hardware, but rather a subscription software plan (around $1,995 a month – this includes two desktop simulators). This would equal a small portion of the $100k price tag currently spent on most simulators. The desktop version, however, is incapable of providing haptic feedback.
To achieve the haptic feeling, a motion-base setup is required. The motion-base comes with everything featured in the desktop version. In addition, The motion-base has foot pedals and a moveable chair to simulate the feeling of the engine, thus giving the trainee the fully immersive feeling of being in a crane, not just the control operation. This 400 lb. piece of hardware loses the portability advantage, but could still be installed at a facility for a reasonable cost.
That said, the desktop configuration has already produced impressive results. An untrained VR analyst spent an hour with the program and was then able to successfully operate the basic functions of an actual crane. ITI’s full program is far longer (over 18 hours) and should be able to deliver competent operators before they have ever set foot in an actual crane. ITI is planning to expand the program to be used for other industrial training situations – including aerial work platform simulators, overhead crane simulators, and pedestal crane simulators.
ITI’s VR mobile crane simulator is proof of the wide application range for VR. This form of training, far cheaper and more portable, will quickly become the norm in the industrial training industry. Looking at the crane simulator, it is easy to picture equivalents in other industries – including a surgery simulator for healthcare, and vocational tech experiences for high school education. InfoTrends will be keeping an eye on this application and others like it, and will be publishing in-depth reports through our Image Innovators service. ITI’s VR mobile crane simulator will begin shipping in March 2017.
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