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What's happening in the world of digital learning?

  • Miles Corbett

VR: Experiences with CenarioVR

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

The elearning world is buzzing about the impact of VR. So when Trivantis told us they have an exciting new VR product in the wings - CenarioVR - we leapt at the opportunity to put this new technology through its paces.

Real world scenarios are very engaging, so hand in hand with our clients at South Wales Fire and Rescue, and our friends at Video Interact, we tackled a real world learning challenge - extricating a casualty from a major road traffic incident.

SWFRS Bridgend Crew are the world champions at this (which may say something about the standard of driving on the M4?). It was good to team with the best while we got used to the new technology. We filmed the SWFRS crew running a training exercise. The finished product will be used as basic training for new recruits, and a short version will also be used for driver safety awareness.

If you want VR to be more than an expensive gimmick, you need to pick the right learning need; and let’s face it, fire and rescue crews depend on 360 thinking just to keep themselves and their casualties alive!

Since this had to be run as a single shoot, the resources involved were substantial; 6 cameras, 2 vehicles, 6 fire crew and a rescue tender, and 6 of us on logistics and filming. We initially considered a casualty-eye-view for the 360 camera, but soon realised that most of the camera’s view would be obscured by the casualty protection; and it also became clear that if we placed the camera inside the vehicle, it would be shaken by the crew as they cut the car apart and removed the casualty, rendering the footage useless. In the end we opted to put head cams on the crew and casualty, and placed the 360 camera outside the vehicle.

This means that we can give the viewer access to other points of view via headcam footage, and along with the recorded interviews from different crew members and the casualty, this builds a complete understanding of what’s happening as the scenario unfolds.

Next we went into an edit and design phase, stripping the whole thing down to a 5 minute scenario with lots of interactivity. Since we weren’t working from a storyboard (it was impossible to build one, as we didn’t know what footage we’d have until we’d shot it), the biggest challenge at this point was creating a valuable learning experience from what we had. How could we translate this into something memorable and engaging?

The end result has a very simple feel to it. We have produced a short for the launch of CenarioVR, and there will be a full version for SWFRS to use in their training. The whole production has been created without anyone writing a line of code; all of the work is in the filming and design. It runs on any device, from a VR headset through to a desktop PC, either in an offline app or via a standard web browser. It tracks using xAPI from its own embedded LRS or publishes out to SCORM if you prefer to use your own LMS.

CenarioVR is still in Beta, but we are impressed.


In conclusion, here’s a snippet of some of our lessons learned:

  • CenarioVR is a great tool that makes quick work of the building, publishing and distribution of your assets; it is way ahead of the field.

  • There will be an endless range of applications, but you need a very clear vision at the outset of why 360 VR adds value. Ask what value 360 VR would add to training about GDPR, or evacuation drill training for cruise ship crew. Without a clear understanding of the value 360 VR adds, it just becomes another flashy gimmick that doesn’t add to the learning experience.

  • Consider and rigorously test the methods by which you expect people to access your 360 VR content. It’s great on a mobile phone, but that can be resource intensive; what are the storage, processing and bandwidth limitations of your users or IT estate?

  • The 3 key factors in creating an effective 360 VR resource are: 1. Craft the story. Even though VR immerses you by definition, you still need a good story to draw people in and hold their attention. 2. Keep it concise. Be thoughtful and precise about selecting and editing your scenes. You want to engage the users’ senses and emotions without overwhelming them with facts. 3. Create an instinctive user experience. In real life, when a police car approaches you hear it before you see it, and the sound puts you on alert. If you’re wearing a VR headset and you hear a noise, you’ll turn towards it in the same way. Think carefully about how both sound and visuals enable you to capture the users’ attention and how you want them to react to what’s going on.

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