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Maritime Training meets Virtual Reality

I have worked in 3D, including bridge simulator builds, for over 25 years and have seen several false starts with Virtual Reality (VR). Within the last couple of years, it has been apparent that VR has arrived, and it's very much here to stay.

It was fair to say that, not long ago the hardware was not fit for purpose; it caused people to feel nauseous, have eye strain and complain about the resolution and frame rate. These negative impressions on the capability are still discussed by the detractors today who rightly remember the experience, but consistently fail to associate it with the hardware issues of the time.

This is no longer the case. Hardware has improved at an incredible rate which is why we can safely say that VR is a serious addition to digital training solutions. The sense of immersion, of 'being there' is incredible, leading students to remember the training as though performed for real.

The opportunities are now endless. VR is used to train people in so many fields, in particular places or spaces that would be expensive and/or high risk, with the added bonus of being able to damage the digital twins!

With a focus on bridge training, you can go one of two ways with VR. One way is to use high-end VR hardware wired to existing (modified) fixed bridge simulators.

The second is to use lower-cost, mobile and wireless headsets to deliver training anywhere, at a lower cost.

This second way is our focus at Kilo, and whilst it is acknowledged as being limited in its ability to provide the same complexity as a multi-million pound fixed bridge simulator (yet!), it gets close and opens the door to many training requirements for bridge teams. The additional benefit of providing access to immersive learning that is not constrained by geography or fixed assets is clearly of great value and cost-saving implications.

While talking about bridge simulation, I must add a note on the real power of VR. With a fixed simulator the students must see the world on flat screens or domes; this works well but does not allow for parallax and stereo 3D - if you move your head in a fixed simulator, the image on the screen does not change.

If you do the same in VR, the image changes, as in real life - you can now see the buoy or small vessel, previously obscured, by a Bridge window frame or stanchion, as an example. The simple truth with VR is that it has to be experienced to understand its power - the fact that you are fully immersed in the 3D world is very significant and adds real value to the user's training experience.

It's our opinion at Kilo, that it is not a case of 'if', but of 'when' in terms of organisations adopting VR as a part of their training offer. While the field grows, Kilo welcomes early adopters to form partnerships with us on the development of these state-of-the-art training applications.

With VR technology trending, this gives our partners a great opportunity to shout about their involvement with the very latest in immersive solutions using VR as well as set future standards for others to follow. Exciting times are ahead!

If you would like to chat with Kilo about implementing VR into your training program, please contact us.

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