Genie to launch VR training
17 January 2024
Genie is set to launch brand-new virtual reality training at The ARA Show, Feb. 19-21 in New Orleans.
Shown exclusively to ALH in early January, the tech-forward training will be used in conjunction with the company’s current Train-the-Trainer training program, and the first module utilizes a Genie Z-45 electric boom, with future products (likely scissor lifts and telehandlers) to be worked on next.
In development since 2020, Genie worked virtual reality development studio From the Future to create its first virtual module.
Scott Owyen, Genie’s director of training, met with From the Future more than 3 years ago following a cold call he received from the company asking if he’d be willing to meet and learn more about From the Future’s VR training development.
“When I first met with From the Future, they demoed some of the projects that they had previously done for different industries, such as the airline and pipeline industries,” Owyen explained. “Some of the things they showed me were just mind-boggling.”
Looking at the future with From the Future
Following a successful first introductory meeting, Genie liked what they saw, and began working closely with From the Future to develop their own realistic module.
“They looked at our website and marketing materials to first get a feel for the Genie brand,” Owyen said. “We wanted the module to be futuristic and kind of sci-fi, but also wanted to ensure authenticity – both within the virtual world, as well as with product representation.
“We didn’t want it to feel or look ‘cartoon-ish.’ It was a dynamic process, and we see global potential for use.”
Following months of collaboration between the companies, a final virtual reality ‘world’ was signed-off on by Genie, allowing the company to then switch gears to securing the right headsets for use.
“I didn’t want to have to rely on an internet connection in order to have the software work,” Owyen explained. “When I am in remote places delivering training, such as a mine, for example, I don’t always have access to the internet, so it was important for us to have the ability to load the software directly onto the headsets.”
Through the eyes of a VR headset
Genie eventually chose Meta’s Quest 3 VR headsets and has placed an initial order for 40 sets. Genie will have around 10 of the headsets at each of its training centers, and 10 available for field training. The company also sees massive potential for VR to be used not only for additional training, but for product development, research and collaboration.
“This is just the start,” Owyen said. “But, for the purpose of this training enhancement that we’re doing, these are perfect.”
Genie will use The ARA Show to give interested attendees the opportunity to try out the new program – which, the company stresses, does not take place of regulated training requirements. Instead, what Genie’s VR Training will do is give operators and trainers the ability to navigate and circumvent real-world hazards (electrocution, tip-overs, wind and crushing.)
The VR Training program will officially be implemented into Genie’s Train the Training this summer, Owyen said, and for those looking to learn more, visit the company’s booth at ARA (5339) and stay tuned to ALH for more.