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Construction Safety Training, News, Virtual Reality, VR Training

In 2016, there were 370 fatal falls out of 991 construction fatalities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Construction safety and fall protection training, in particular, is a severe problem that needs a better solution. Consider this true story…

Bill enters the job trailer, after a little small talk, he grabs his harness. Giving it a quick once-over he puts it on along with the rest of his safety equipment, like every other day for months.

On his short walk over to the construction elevator, his mind wanders off. He wonders if his daughter remembered the appropriate bow to accent her cheer uniform for this afternoon’s football game. Otherwise, he’s going to get a panicked text message on his way home to track it down and get it to her before kick-off — just like last week.

A quick and sudden jerk brings him back to reality as the elevator abruptly stops and opens to a scaffolding catwalk, three stories up. After a little over a month on this job site, this view is pretty standard stuff. He hooks up his safety line and walks out to where he’s working this morning and gets to it.

A little over thirty minutes into the job, he reaches down for a tool. Suddenly Bill feels uneasy. Then he realizes the platform is giving way under him. Just as what’s happening fully hits him, he tries to grab for something, anything to stop his fall. He feels himself helplessly flailing.

Just as he begins to panic, he lurches to a stop. He thinks, “My harness!” Thank goodness for my…

Something snaps and Bill falls three stories to his death.

Luckily, today Bill is doing fall protection training in a safe, but shockingly realistic, virtual reality training environment. But, the missed fracture in the D-ring on his harness is an oversight that is not likely to ever go missed again.

Our ability to identify and assess risk is acquired through training and experience. In the case of construction workers, this training can be just as dangerous and unforgiving as the actual day-to-day, on-the-job experience. Which is precisely why the benefits of virtual reality training for construction safety is so compelling.

Let’s review just a few of the most important benefits of using VR training in your construction training program.

1. Virtual Reality Provides a Safer Training Environment

Construction is inherently dangerous.

Not only are the skilled construction activities dicey — moving tons of lumber, drywall, steel, and other building materials, pouring thousands of pounds of concrete, running and connecting electricity, and on and on — but we also put these men and women in tiny buckets and on narrow scaffolding at dizzying heights.

Then, we ask them to stay safe.

Keeping these workers safe is its own dangerous game. Putting these folks into realistic training scenarios is essential. To be effective, this training must recreate not only realistic scenarios, but also the emotions, sensations, and distractions that haunt these hazardous work environments.

Historically, attempts to achieve quality construction safety training has required building large, expensive, and roughly equivalent construction environments. Of course, in recreating these simulated construction sites, you necessarily recreate, to some extent, all of the same danger zones and risks of injury and even death.

Virtual Reality Training solves many of the safety issues inherent in the traditional safety training that many construction companies continue to use. The VR training environment is 100% safe and gives an arguably more accurate construction environment in which to train.

2. Ability to Create Riskier, More Realistic Training

Creating physical construction simulations has so many limitations. Try finding a training facility that can accommodate a fifteen story superstructure, swinging tons of steel with an enormous crane, or pouring thousands of pounds of cement footing.

It’s impossible. So, what do we do?

We build structures to reasonable heights, we swing simulated loads, and we role play or inject equivalent distractions. The limitation of the physical world, training budgets, and rational risk tolerances force us to train in environments that can only simulate a tiny fraction of the real risks and hazards of a real job site.

Virtual reality training allows us to push training exercises to the very edge of realism, up to and including deadly hazards and actions.

Simulating the actual hazards and results of following (or not following) safety procedures is one powerful advantage. We can practice most, if not all, of the hazardous activities that a worker will be expected to perform in accordance with the project plan. Also, they can practice these assignments under the same working conditions they will experience on the job site.

With VR training you can also introduce the realistic sensations of heights, distractions, stress, and environmental hazards. These mental and emotional hazards are often missed in training because we simply can’t push the risk envelope.

3. Virtual Reality Training Allows for Endless Repetition

Repetition is the secret to mastery.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his best selling book Outliers: The Story of Success, introduces the idea that mastery in a well-defined discipline can be achieved with approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. In construction, that kind of repetition is prohibitively expensive, and consequently, the majority of that deliberate practice necessarily takes place on-the-job.

Virtual reality training has the power to make this level of deliberate practice much more, well, practical. The incremental cost of running a VR training scenario is de minimus, unlike more traditional training in the physical world.

With VR training, workers get to strap on the VR headset and go at it again and again until they can accomplish the task flawlessly — and safely.

4. Real Life is Random. Virtual Reality Software Can Generate That Randomness

We all know that the world is full of random moments. However, when most training is being designed, that kind of unpredictable randomness — interruptions, distractions, weather, changes of all kinds — is marginalized or removed in order to maintain focus on the teaching of core concepts. Unfortunately, when this is done, realism is reduced and training becomes less contextual and relevant to the real world.

We often think we’re basically “stuck” with this less-than-optimal training for a variety of reasons. The two most common challenges in randomizing training are cost and trainee evaluation. In the physical world, it is simply too expensive to build the requisite number of training scenarios. In this same constraining physical world, it’s difficult or impossible for trainers to effectively evaluate trainee performance when there are too many extraneous secondary scenarios and variables.

Once again, virtual reality software removes those barriers. The best VR training modules are just now introducing randomization of the kind you might experience in a high-quality video game. Randomization ensures you never “teach to the test”, or allow trainees to temporarily memorize “the hard parts” of certain lessons — things they might quickly forget after the completion of their training.

What’s more, this randomization comes at no increase in cost and leverages one of the most significant advantages of premium virtual reality training: much of the trainee evaluation is baked into the software itself.

5. Virtual Reality Provides a Safe Environment to Test and Evaluate Procedures

When we think about administering training, we often forget about the testing and evaluation that has to go into validating the actual training. In construction safety training, this is particularly important.

Too often, we rely on assumptions, or even worse, accident reports to develop and assess our safety procedures. This approach is made even more ineffective by the fact that construction safety is often dynamic, based on the current project plan, available equipment, and working conditions/environment — all factors that probably should require refinements in on-site safety procedures.

With virtual reality training software, we can construct scenarios that are specific to the job site or project planning scenarios and then realistically and safely test and evaluate those procedures. You can also test project plans to ensure that you are creating project plans that are realistic and can be safely executed.

6. Immersive VR Training Can Increase Trainee Focus

How many times have you been in a training room and your attention wanders? Thinking about lunch, returning a text message, wondering why you’re covering this again, just waiting for it to end, or simply daydreaming are only a few examples of all-too-human mental distractions that can degrade the training process.

Sitting in a classroom or even waiting in line for your turn on the platform are all limitations of the physical training environment; restrictions that allow for trainees to lose focus and miss critical points of instruction.

Virtual reality has the advantage of being fully immersive. Because VR training strives to fully replicate the physical world and all of the disparate elements in that real-world, you have to stay on your toes at all times. And while, depending on the supply of hardware, some trainees may have to wait to get into a VR headset, others can follow along, watching their journey and lesson unfold from a first-person perspective on a nearby HD screen, turning passive waiting into active learning.

This realistic and immersive training environment helps trainees maintain their attention and concentration on each training task posed to them.

7. Virtual Reality Training Gives Trainers Better Evaluation Tools

We previously mentioned the challenges of evaluating trainees and even the training itself. These challenges are particularly acute in construction training.

In many of the construction safety training programs used today, trainers are struggling to evaluate trainees under less than ideal circumstances. Trainers are either assessing from a safe, but obscured vantage point, or struggling to evaluate from the same precarious positions as the student – extreme heights, narrow spaces, unstable platforms.

In contrast, a training environment constructed with virtual reality software can put trainers in the best possible position to observe and evaluate their trainees. Besides, the software can also capture data points that help analyze why trainees are experiencing success and failure – view and movement tracking as well as biometrics.

Another benefit to evaluating training in virtual reality is the simplicity of collecting and analyzing data – no more clipboards and tally sheets.

8. Training Can Be Customized for Specific Sites, Scenarios, and Standards

Every company and job site is unique. And no matter how consistent we try to be with construction safety, the real-world will always throw some curveballs our way.

Each project will likely have its own special challenges and problems because of location, unique requirements, weather, or just the complexity of the project itself. General construction safety training can leave workers exposed to or unfamiliar with local job hazards.

Virtual reality software provides a huge advantage in the flexibility and costs to offer site- and company-specific construction training.

Physical training facilities rarely can be reconfigured to approximate any particular job site realistically. And most construction projects can’t absorb the lost time and additional cost of shutting down portions of a job site for training.Necessarily, with increased customization comes increased cost, but these costs will almost certainly pale in comparison to those of closing a real-world job site for one or more days for training purposes, or the inherent risks of O.J.T., (on-the-job training) for the same purpose.Further, different companies often have slightly different ways of doing things; specific protocols and standards that help define how a company operates. Premium VR training can accommodate these variations for a more tailored training experience.

9. Virtual Reality Can Make Training More Efficient

Many of the benefits that we have reviewed so far point to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of virtual reality over traditional, physical training environments.

Virtual reality training allows for your construction training safety programs to be far more relevant, site-specific, frequent, and repeatable without significantly increasing cost or time. In fact, studies and real-world applications of VR Training show it drives down the time needed to learn the same information usually taught with more traditional training methods. This Deloitte Insights article points out that in 2017, KFC employed a VR Training simulation to help teach their trainees their world-famous “secret recipe” for preparing chicken. According to KFC, with VR, trainees mastered the five steps needed to make the brand’s namesake fried chicken in just 10 minutes — as compared to the 25 minutes needed to the learn the same thing using conventional training.

10. Virtual Reality Training Research Indicates Higher Retention

All the training in the world is worthless unless it sticks.

While VR Training is still relatively new, there is a lot of research around what helps trainees to retain their training. Many of these factors are inherent characteristics of virtual reality training.

Here are just a few VR training characteristics that increase retention:

  • Consistency – By using software, even with randomization, every training scenario can be reliably delivered in a precise and controlled way.

  • Frequency – VR training can be run over and over again with no additional incremental cost or trainee risk.

  • Relevance – Software allows us to reconfigure and customize the training environment cheaply.

  • Immersion – Virtual reality gives us the luxury of dropping a trainee into a fully immersive and realistic training environment that can be pushed to extremes.

The research continues to reaffirm the overall effectiveness of virtual reality training, especially in studies targeted explicitly at the challenges of delivering construction safety training.

Bonus: Virtual Reality Training Lowers Training Costs

By this point, you’ve probably already picked up on the thread of cost savings throughout this list of benefits. Using software and some relatively inexpensive hardware can slash the cost of realistically simulating a broad spectrum of construction hazards and evaluate the proper execution of safety procedures.

Cost-savings permeate all facets of a comprehensive safety training program. But, probably some of the biggest savings are realized in reducing the need to either physically create or travel to an adequate training facility or temporarily shutting down an actual job site to provide a viable training environment.

The bottom line is construction safety training is a non-negotiable expense. However, if you can do it at a fraction of the cost and time, and it’s more effective than the alternative, then the business case for VR training becomes overwhelming.

How PIXO VR Can Help Your Construction Safety Training

PIXO VR is currently developing a ‘Focus Fourpack’, providing Virtual Reality Training experiences concerned with construction’s “Fatal Four,” four of the leading workplace killers, responsible for more than half of the industry’s worker deaths in 2016. The first of these, PIXO VR Fall Protection, is now available, with the remaining three slated for completion by early 2019. The Fatal Four include:

  1. Falls – (38.7% of total construction deaths in 2016)

  2. Struck by Object – (9.4%)

  3. Electrocutions – (8.3%)

  4. Caught-in/between – (7.3%)

As the economy drives increased construction activity and our construction sites become increasingly complex and technological, these sad statistics will only decline if and when we improve and innovate our current training to make it more effective.

PIXO VR is aggressively working towards a VR Training solution that protects your workers with the most realistic and effective training environment available.

But, talk is cheap, we want the opportunity to show you.

Contact us to experience the cutting edge of construction safety training.

Photo by Tuan Minh on Unsplash

News, Virtual Reality, VR Training

The results are in – and the winner is virtual reality training.

According to a recent study by the University of Maryland, virtual reality training is more effective in recall accuracy than traditional desktop CBT (computer-based training). With a median recall accuracy percentage of 90.48 percent for immersive HMDs – head-mounted (virtual reality) displays – compared to desktop display’s 78.57 percent, the long-awaited study has further validated the efficacy of virtual reality training as a learning tool over traditional e-learning methods.

As the study’s abstract reads:

“Virtual reality displays, such as head-mounted displays (HMD), afford us a superior spatial awareness by leveraging our vestibular and proprioceptive senses, as compared to traditional desktop displays.”

The study’s findings are particularly important for employers in high-stakes verticals, where skills and safety training for workers represents a critical aspect of how those businesses function.

Put in the context of a standard grade scale, at 90+ percent recall, VR training would score in the A-range, while desktop computer training, at a shade below 79 percent, would be stuck back in the C’s.

When managing operations at a construction site, manufacturing plant, oil and gas pipeline, or other heavy industrial environment, a workforce recalling their training and performing their tasks consistently at an “A-level” would mean substantial gains in productivity, efficiency and, perhaps most critically, fewer mistakes that eat away at the bottom line or in worst-case scenarios, could even open the door for potential fines and litigation.

When talking about the ability of trainees and users to retain important information, it’s easy to see how these kind of numbers – an almost 12 percent improvement in median recall and an 8.8 percent improvement in overall recall accuracy – can make a sizable positive impact for enterprise users of VR training technology.

“This data is exciting in that it suggests that immersive environments could offer new pathways for improved outcomes in education and high-proficiency training”, said Amitabh Varshney, professor of computer science at the University of Maryland (UMD) and co-author of the study.

Beyond the findings, the UMD study itself is notable as data on the effectiveness of virtual reality training has been somewhat hard to come by, due to the newness of VR training, the number of variables involved in testing, and the difficulty in arranging for true “apples-to-apples” comparisons of the two learning methodologies, VR and CBT. But the research is finally catching up with the technology and the story it’s telling is a compelling one.

“By showing that virtual reality can help improve recall, it opens the door to further studies that look at the impact of VR-based training modules at all levels – from elementary school children learning astronomy to trauma residents acquiring the latest knowledge in lifesaving procedures,” Professor Varshney continued. “We believe the future of education and innovation will greatly benefit from the use of these new visual technologies.”

It won’t surprise you to learn that we at PIXO VR agree.

Thinking about how Virtual Reality Training could transform your business’ workforce? Reach out to us for a Free Consultation.


VR Training

Skills training is far more effective when participants are actively engaged in the learning process. We know this intuitively from our own exper

ience: hands-on practice and collaborative exercises and other “active learning” techniques are far more stimulating than powerpoint slides and training manuals. And research has proven that such stimulation and engagement result in higher proficiency and longer knowledge retention.

Training professionals are using a spectrum of reality technologies to put these active learning principles into practice. Let’s take a look at three modalities that are employed in skills training — 360° Video, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality — to see how effectively they each engage participants.

360° Video

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then moving pictures are that much more engaging and informative. 360° video goes a step further by allowing the user to control the point of view of a prerecorded scene.

In the 360° video example shown here, police trainees can control the viewing angle as they learn how to perform a Pursuit Intervention Technique to safely stop a fleeing car.

360° video is limited as a training tool. The available experience remains the same every time. To make a change, the video needs to be re-recorded. And critically important for our purposes — the active learning experience of 360° video is constrained by the user’s inability to interact with the environment and encounter a response by the environment

Augmented Reality

AR is similar to 360° video in allowing observers to control the viewing angle, but AR does so in real time, as the viewer observes their actual physical surroundings. As the name indicates, augmented reality layers additional content to enrich the user’s perception of the real-world scene.

This additional content can appear on the surface, annotating real objects with relevant text or images. And AR can also allow users to visualize objects below the surface — like Superman’s x-ray vision. For example, in the video below, augmented reality reveals the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing components hidden behind the walls and ceilings of a construction site.

Augmented reality offers an information-rich experience. Users can not only look up and down and all around as they can with 360° video, but AR also allows them to see more than what is visible on the surface and to follow what interests them in order to gain deeper understanding.

However, augmented reality, like 360° video, cannot fully engage users in active learning: the realism of the user viewing the actual physical world does not afford the dynamic interactive experience that makes virtual reality especially effective at multimodal learning.

Virtual Reality

Because it is not limited by the constraints of the physical world, virtual reality can deliver a more interactive learning experience than 360° video and AR. As a simulated environment, VR can often provide a more authentic training experience, with trainees encountering various random challenges, under differing lifelike conditions, as they would in actual work situations.

VR allows trainees to repeatedly practice skills to develop proficiency and confidence, thereby gaining the equivalent of on-the-job experience. And they can practice dangerous operations without risking safety or equipment.

Trainees develop proficiency by perceiving the situation, taking action and receiving immediate realistic feedback on the consequences of their actions. This process of learning by trial and error has been proven to result in better understanding and longer knowledge retention. Neuroscientists call this type of of active learning “the perception-action cycle.”  And let’s not overlook another important benefit of virtual reality: like gaming, it can be fun.  Trainees are cognitively engaged in an immersive experience, while interactively practicing skills.  They are motivated to concentrate their mental energies to gain proficiency and succeed at tasks.  That’s active learning at its best.


VR Training


In this article, we’re going to talk about how virtual reality and specifically VR training is making training for potentially dangerous or hazardous situations and workplaces safer.

But first, I want to open with a little consumer review of VR headsets and accessories. I thought this might be helpful since many training managers still assume that VR training is a prohibitively expensive proposition. The price points of virtual reality technology are quickly mainstreaming these devices into the consumer market, making them an increasingly compelling and low-risk possible addition to your training budget.

The Incredible Shrinking Cost of VR Technology

Virtual reality and augmented reality are everywhere. As we’ve now safely exited the holiday buying season, there’s a good chance your kids, grandkids, or nieces and nephews will have some kind of VR/AR technology or software on their wish lists the next time around if they didn’t already.

This technology is becoming so pervasive, you might not even recognize it as VR. To help you up your ‘cool factor’ with your kids — and to give you a sense of just how far the price points have fallen — here are just a few of the hottest VR headsets and supporting items on the market now:

  • HTC Vive Pro or Pro bundle – On Amazon, these top of line VR headsets have dipped below $700 and the Pro bundle, which will give you a legitimately professional quality VR environment, is right at $1,000.
  • Oculus Rift or Go – In our opinion, this a number two headset, but it will get you in the VR game and give you an idea of what’s possible for under $500.
  • PlayStation VR – If you have to do VR on a really tight budget, this is a sub-$300 option, but I would recommend just saving up for an HTC Vive, HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset, or Oculus Rift rig. (Seriously. There’s a difference.)
  • High-performance graphics cards, like NVIDIA GTX1050Ti or AMD Radeon RX 470 – These high-end GPUs are essential to avoid juddering and screen tearing at the hands of inferior GPUs slow refresh rates.
  • Sensor mount stands for HTC Vive or Oculus Rift sensors – These are the light stands, (not the trackers, just the stands. The trackers a just a little farther down our list), used by professional photographers and videographers. But, they are essential accessories for creating a mobile VR studio or just getting those sensors in the perfect spots.
  • Vive tracker or Vive wireless adapter – In short order, you’re going to want more freedom and flexibility in your VR set up. These two accessories allow you to add triangulated trackers and room scale to your experience — both essential for the full-on holodeck experience.
  • Steam gift cards, lots of Steam gift cards — Steam VR is the place to get the latest VR games and experiences. Your VR enthusiast is going to need some credits to get all of the new titles rolling out in the VR space. My current favorites are Climbey and Pavlov.

OK, back to business. What does this mean for your company’s VR training?

As I said in the introduction, the cost of VR technology is dropping fast. Investing in VR technology is down to a rounding error in most corporate training budgets.

So, you almost have to give it a try.

The VR gaming enthusiast wish list above is essentially the same list you need to submit with your budget request to launch your corporate VR training program.

More importantly, it’s your wish list to make your most dangerous training safer.

Making Hazardous Training Nearly Risk-free

Virtual reality and augmented reality are rapidly being incorporated into retail training and e-commerce platforms. Walmart is using VR to train new employees, and Amazon is using AR to let customers see how things look in their homes before buying.

The next logical step — which is happening rapidly — is to move this technology into more critical and hazardous corporate training programs. If VR training makes sense to train retail workers, how much more compelling is it for workers that put their lives on the line doing their jobs, and even training for their jobs? Really, it just makes sense.

Let’s take a look at four powerful examples of how VR training can make a difference in your company’s safety record.

VR Training for Utility Workers

People who work with electricity, gas, and nuclear power have inherently hazardous jobs. Utility workers are accustomed to following carefully established protocols to remain safe, but even routine maintenance can quickly turn dangerous. Then there are the inevitable scenarios when utility workers encounter the unexpected, forcing them to react rapidly and accurately to avoid a crisis.

Training in virtual reality enables workers to practice not only their standard procedures but also to work through the unpredictable. VR training modules can be designed to randomize in less predictable scenarios, preparing workers for when things go wrong in the field.

VR Training for Construction Workers

Construction is one of those jobs that’s a little different every time you put on the hard hat. Every job site comes with its unique hazards — site-specific equipment, materials, layout, and even safety equipment.

For this reason, construction companies realize it’s essential to familiarize construction professionals to job sites in advance. Unfortunately, this often requires supervisors, workers, and often the job site itself to shut down to train. VR training can be the answer to providing essential training without interrupting or delaying the project’s schedule.

With a VR construction training module, before any ironworker climbs twenty stories into the sky and steps out onto a scaffold or girder, they’ll have walked a virtual one.
They’ll get a realistic sensation of height and deal with, more or less, the exact environment — layout, equipment, and other workers — that will complicate their job on this specific project.

Electricians can practice lockout and tag-out procedures. Carpenters, roofers, and framers will perform fall protection exercises without having to train on the job site or travel to an expensive, far-away fall protection training center.

Critically, all of these dangerous jobs can be trained over and over until both workers and employers feel confident they are ready to operate safely on the actual job site — all from the safety of an office or in a trailer on-site. (Or potentially, any other endpoint on the planet.)

VR Training for First Responders

Law enforcement, firefighters, and EMTs face new and dangerous situations every day. These situations are made even more hazardous by the fact that most of them are nearly impossible to prepare for with traditional or on-the-job training formats.

Without putting these professionals in real-world, unpredictable, and escalating scenarios it’s impossible to see how they will react in moments of high stress and danger. This unknown can put themselves and the communities they serve in danger.

Running through a VR training module for first responders can give these responders realistic responses to stressors.

A police officer can focus through the adrenaline rush and uncertainty of entering an active shooter scenario. A firefighter can push through that momentary panic and claustrophobia as they enter a burning building. All of these training scenarios have the real-world sense of danger without the actual consequences of making the wrong decision under stress.

Virtual reality allows first responders to train over and over again, in the most dangerous scenarios, quickly building up the muscle memory necessary to handle a real crisis. VR training also minimizes the inherent hazards, big budgets, and highly skilled training personnel required to provide high-quality, live, real-world training.

VR Training for Defense

When you think of risky training, many immediately think of our men and women in uniform. These heroes go into harm’s way, not only on the battlefield but also in their daily readiness and training. VR training modules for defense can significantly reduce training accidents, injuries, and even fatalities while increasing the effectiveness of the exercises themselves.

Some of the most interesting VR research and training for defense is being done in the area of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD). These professionals train for scenarios that involve identifying hidden Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and then rendering these wholly unique and hacked-together devices safe. Every situation is unique, and even the training can be hazardous or possibly fatal.

In the area of defense, there are unlimited possibilities for using VR training. Here are just a few that are becoming more common practice:

  • Training units in coordinated tactics and close quarter operations
  • Exposing units to new operating environments before deploying
  • Training soldiers to use new tactics and rules of engagement
  • Training soldiers to use new weapons and equipment

VR training is an ideal way to get soldiers up to speed and to operate safely with minimal risk during necessarily intense and hazardous training.

Get Your VR Training Program Started

Better and cheaper virtual reality hardware is making it harder to ignore the benefits of bringing VR training into your hazardous duty training programs. Plus, these less expensive headsets are making it easier to justify purchasing larger quantities of devices to enable workers to train together in virtual reality environments.

As a huge value-add and incentive to purchase, major VR hardware providers are planning to add biometric sensors to their product offerings, along with the ability to interpret the data, which will give employers a much better sense of what their trainees are physically as well as mentally experiencing in the headset, as well as cognitive load — the amount of material they’re learning.

This year is the perfect time to include VR training in your budget. Endeavor to retire those sterile training rooms full of trainees sitting in uncomfortable chairs, at tiny desks, lulled into boredom by flickering fluorescent lights and an equally bored trainer flipping mindlessly through an out of date PowerPoint deck.

Make your goal to replace old training styles with virtual reality’s safer and more diverse scenarios, heightened by realistic sensations, and invigorated with the intensity of these real-world environments. Introduce a more engaging training atmosphere, fostering a sense of camaraderie and even friendly competition between trainees, helping them become more confident, better equipped, and safer in the field.

I guarantee you they will start looking forward to their next training sessions.

How Can PIXO VR Help?

As you begin evaluating your training, you’re sure to have questions. If you’re considering VR training for the first time or trying to get more from your VR training, don’t hesitate to contact one of our VR training specialists.


What's Hot

Virtual reality gas pump training courtesy PIXO VR

Dear Oregon,

We understand you don’t know how to pump your own gas and are terrified of the struggles this new challenge might bring. We received word of your fears – spills, smells, and potentially, sudden death – and want you to know we get it. Learning something new can be scary. But it doesn’t have to be.

We have a gift for you. A ground-breaking, life-saving solution to your self-serve gas crisis – Virtual Reality Gas Pump Training.

At our virtual gas pump, you will face many dangers, so you can practice safely avoiding them. Randomized scenarios will add re-play-ability and prepare you for the most common dangers of gas-pumping, including:

  • Avoiding spillage, and what to do when it inevitably occurs. (Visit the virtual dry cleaner!)
  • Using the pump to ward off attackers who may accost you while you pump your own gas.
  • Supervising children inside the car AND pumping your own gas—at the same time!

When we discussed your plight in an emergency staff meeting today, our CEO, Sean Hurwitz, said, “The value of virtual reality training, such as PIXO’s, is that it exposes participants to immersive experiences without putting them in any danger. Our VR training modules are so realistic, users will feel like they’re really at the pump, so they can practice making good decisions under pressure, without the dangers of real-life gas pumping.”

PIXO VR helps people stay safe; it’s at the core of everything we do. While we typically focus our efforts on utilities, first responders, manufacturing, and other high-risk professions, we see you’re in crisis. And we’re here to help.

Hang in there Oregon, we’re all rooting for you.   


Your friends at PIXO VR


The folks at M2TechCast invited PIXO VR’s CEO, Sean Hurwitz to their podcast to talk about virtual reality training for first responders and others in hazardous jobs. Sean and hosts Matt Roush, Mike Brennan, along with Greg Doyle of MITechNews discussed the value of training in a safe environment and VR’s ability to create realistic situations, enabling supervisors to ensure their personnel are ready when crises arise. 

Listen here for the show and read more about the podcast on the MITechNews site.

Virtual Reality, VR Training

Members of the PIXO VR team visited Concordia University’s Portland, Oregon campus recently to participate in the Emerging Technologies Symposium for Emergency Solutions. Ben Mazza and Erica Schaffel from PIXO VR were invited to join professionals from academia, technology, government, and emergency preparedness to learn and discuss the benefits of integrating virtual reality simulations into their training programs. Representatives from FEMA, the Office of Homeland Security, police and fire departments, and emergency medical teams participated in the event and many took part in the VR training demo.

Intel Corporation’s Mike Premi and Grant Tietje from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory were the keynote speakers at the event, which combined presentations, panel discussions, and interactive demonstrations.

PIXO VR’s demonstration allowed emergency professionals to work in teams to contain a virtual fire caused by an overturned oil truck. The firefighters coordinated their efforts, reacting to the oil spill and ensuing blaze in real time. Since the platform allows emergency personnel to follow established protocols as they work to control crises, responders were able to react realistically to fire, heat, and smoke. The fire also reacted as it would when doused with foam or water, creating a lifelike situation.

Trainers and emergency managers attending the symposium quickly realized the value of virtual reality’s realistic, immersive experience as a low-risk teaching method for firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and other first responders. The dangerous nature of those professions makes it difficult to teach new skills in the field. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality simulate crisis conditions without placing emergency responders in jeopardy.

Reactions to the VR training demo were overwhelmingly positive. Emergency personnel were impressed with how real it felt and looked. They praised the attention to detail and visual fidelity. Many noted the importance of realism, especially in exercises trainees would have to perform seventeen or eighteen times to get exactly right.

Firefighters and fire chiefs from all over the country participated in PIXO’s three-minute immersive simulation. Tony Fletcher, Division Chief of Training of the Vancouver, WA fire department said, “While invaluable, traditional hands-on training exposes participants to injury, and is often too expensive to repeat. The value of virtual reality training like PIXO’s is that it exposes participants to realistic experiences without putting them in danger, and it’s extremely easy and cost effective to repeat.”

PIXO VR’s Erica Schaffel preps a first responder for the VR training demo. (Photo courtesy PIXO VR)


The challenge, danger, and cost in recreating realistic emergency situations in the field make virtual reality training even more valuable. First responders are constantly learning new skills and striving to maintain their current ones to certify or recertify in their positions. The ability to practice newly-learned procedures without danger and expense will maintain proficiency and build muscle memory. That means when a firefighter faces a real burning building or overturned oil truck, their response will be second nature.

Concordia University’s symposium brought together representatives from different emergency management agencies to discover new technologies that will ultimately make their jobs safer and easier.

It was a great opportunity to meet the people who perform these dangerous, life-saving jobs and show them a safer way to train.


Virtual Reality, VR Training




If you’ve ever seen Ron Howard’s 1995 film, Apollo 13, you’ll recognize the phrase “failure is not an option.” In the film, Ed Harris plays NASA flight director, Gene Kranz, and the quote refers to the accident in the 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission and NASA’s efforts to get the men home safely. Taken in context, the statement makes sense. Of course, Kranz does not want to fail. What flight director wants to lose his men?

Taken in the context of training personnel for dangerous situations; however, the phrase should be, “failure IS an option.” Mistakes, misjudgment, and failure are teaching tools. Getting things wrong while practicing helps people get things right when real problems arise. It’s the reason troops drill over and over before heading out to the field. It’s also the reason schools conduct fire drills. When kids know the procedure ahead of time, they don’t panic when faced with an actual emergency.

Training is positive and making errors while training is natural, but people are still injured and killed in training accidents. What if there were a way to train for dangerous situations without risking injury or death? Many consider virtual reality solely as a platform for gaming. It is used in games, but virtual reality training is also a risk-free way for firefighters to practice their approach to a wildfire. It’s also a safe method for nuclear engineers to perform emergency or even everyday procedures without entering the reactor.

PIXO VR has devised safe, multi-platform virtual reality software that enables people in dangerous jobs to train safely. Our AAA gaming quality visuals place each user IN the appropriate environment. This immersion training allows the trainee to be there—in the fire, the gas leak, or the battle—without leaving headquarters. Trainees in these lifelike scenarios act and react in real time, learning what works and what doesn’t. Squads drill together, often performing different tasks, to practice working as a team. Preparation like this builds muscle memory and confidence without danger.  



What does PIXO’s virtual reality software mean for first responders? It means they get the training they need to deal with life-threatening conditions and they get to go home at the end of the day.