Commercial use of virtual reality (VR) has seen a growing adoption for the purposes of training and education. Recently, British VR specialist RiVR formed a partnership with Leicestershire Fire and Rescue – who are the UK Fire service national lead on VR – building an experience that would enable the emergency service to train whilst in safer surroundings.
Using HTC Vive, RiVR has developed a specialised VR programme that utilises photogrammetry to create photorealistic environments for firefighters to train in, offering different scenarios that are safer and cheaper to run than real world ones.
Via email VRFocus asked RiVR how this all came about, with the company saying: “It all began around a year ago when we met Paul Speight from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue at the Emergency Services show in the UK. Paul was showcasing his VR 360 safety films. We started discussing how we were venturing not only in 360 videos, but VR via the HTC Vive. We showed Paul some prototype photorealistic environments we created using Reality Capture showing the realism possible with interactive photorealistic room scale environments and how they could be used by the Fire Service to train their fire fighters in Fire Investigation and beyond.”
When asked about some of the key features, RiVR said: “Our main goal is for RiVR to revolutionise training for the emergency services, allowing them to train in real life locations within virtual reality but safer and cheaper than traditional training techniques. One of the key features of our training software is our ability to create photo realistic room scale environments that are true to life. Our expertise in photography, both handheld and via drones allows us to gather the research from any location quickly and to great detail, which allows us to create almost perfect recreations in VR.
“We have of course worked closely with our partners and have partnered with a accreditation company to make sure that our training ticks all the boxes and is certified to work alongside or replace traditional training programmes that are currently in use today. Another key feature is our 2nd screen interface that allows a trainer to interact with the trainee who is in VR via an iPad. It’s perfect to allow the trainer to access the trainee correctly. We are also developing our software to include the latest technology, we have been integrating Vive trackers to fire equipment to make the training even more real and have been working with Manus VR to utilise their VR gloves for future iterations of our software.
Currently at a prototype stage, the software will be shown at the Emergency Services show at the NEC in the UK on 20th and 21st of September. “We have two demos on show, our corah environment which is a recreation of a real building and alleyway in Leicester including Fire Engine, authentic fire equipment, a dead body and a burnt our room including interactive fire equipment and fire investigation evidence to find,” said the team. “Our second demo was supported by 4dmax, where we have created a photorealistic fireman in full breathing apparatus which you view in VR and also pick up a real fire hose in real life thanks to the custom Vive tracker we have attached to the fire hose.”
Looking at the future, RiVR expects the training programme to be in use within the fire service in the coming year. The company also plans on expanding to other fire service departments and emergency services. “We are currently working very closely with the Fire Service in the UK to create a suite of VR training programs to cover a number of differing departments,” RiVR continued. “We are also in talks with the police and special forces in the UK to create bespoke programs for them as well as the private sector where we have had discussions with major car manufacturers for machinery training as well as a well known charity for first aid training.”
VRFocus will continue to cover the latest advances in VR training, reporting back with any new announcements.