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It’s the safety factor that makes VR so attractive as a training tool, especially for construction workers who often have to contend with confined spaces or heights or operate complex machinery

Editorial October / November 2017

The use of virtual reality training – what has been called ‘the gamification of learning’ – is on the rise in the construction sector, with one Kiwi firm recently being recognised in the New Zealand Innovation Awards.

Simulation-based learning uses technology to replicate the real world in a fully interactive way for the learner. For example, airline pilots spend hundreds of hours in a simulator before they enter the cockpit of a ‘real’ plane for the first time. Now, virtual reality, or VR, is offering much closer to the real thing in terms of the overall experience due to its almost fully immersive nature.

Anyone that’s ever slipped on a set of VR goggles will know how the experience feels. Depending on the clarity of the screen and the quality of the sound, it’s almost as good as being there in real life – except you can sit in the comfort of your armchair while you drive the Monaco Grand Prix or battle the zombie apocalypse.
 
There were a number of exhibitors at the recent Facilities Integrate expo offering VR services, including Staples VR, the team behind the New Zealand Fire Service’s ‘Escape My House’ promotion which showcased how to escape a burning building in real time. And earlier this year, Palmerston North company Watson Property announced it would be the first real estate agency in the country to use VR technology as part of its marketing campaigns.
 
However, it’s the safety factor that makes VR so attractive as a training tool, especially for construction workers who often have to contend with confined spaces or heights or operate complex machinery. Last year, 3M announced that its fall protection training programmes would include a VR component which would allow trainees to inspect a harness and connect self-retracting lifelines all while at height, but without the danger of falling (watch it here).
 
A finalist at the 2017 New Zealand Innovation Awards, Fulton Hogan’s VR training for its ‘boil out’ procedure gives employees the ability to virtually perform the high-risk procedure step by step, and experience the harmful consequences of any mistakes made, all while in a safe environment – you can read more about it in this edition of NZCN or online here.
 
And while perhaps this is the first time VR has been used for training purposes in New Zealand’s construction industry, it certainly won’t be the last.
 
Until next time …
Lynne Richardson, editor

LRichardson@astonpublishing.co.nz


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