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VR tools are now part of National Grid US training

01 December 2011

National Grid US has bought three ActiveMove immersive display systems from Virtual Reality (VR) specialist, Virtalis, and is developing a library of interactive 3D VR models that will be incorporated into the company’s technical training. ActiveMove is a transportable, interactive, 3D visualisation system that is part of the Virtalis ActiveWorks family of 3D immersive visualisation tools.

With ActiveMove, data can be visualised in stereoscopic 3D, the system enabling full immersion and interaction, thanks to Virtalis’ integrated head and hand tracking technology. The user can navigate through the virtual world, pick and manipulate component parts in real time and make decisions on the fly. National Grid’s ActiveMove system makes use of the Christie Mirage S+6K range of 3D projectors with a wired Intersense IS900 tracking system, powered by a Dell workstation. 

Virtalis is working with National Grid staff to create training storyboards and is also building a library of 3D models of hardware and backdrops. This should make the creation of future training content easier, because it will be possible to draw on the library of parts and backdrops and bolt them together. The VR models the Virtalis team, headed by Jamie Femia, have completed include a generic power station, a generic substation, a regulator gas substation, reclosers, and gas valves.

The VR courses allow the student to make choices, such as what tools will be required for a task and what personal protection will be needed. Before a stage can be completed, certain criteria have to be met and there is interaction between the instructor and the student throughout the process steps that have been deliberately designed to closely mimic real life.
The data for the VR models is usually prepared and sent to Virtalis in 3D Studio Max by external animation and modelling agency, R Squared Digital Media Inc (R2DM). Virtalis is then able to use its MaxExchange software, which was launched last year, to import the data into its own renderer, Visionary Render, where it is checked and optimized and then the actions and interactions are programmed in. Virtalis MaxExchange software acts as a plug-in for Autodesk 3ds Max allowing models to be exported without any loss of data or formatting. Similarly, the VR models can move in the opposite direction and be translated into Autodesk 3ds Max.


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