RiVR secures deals with fire and rescue services for VR technology
Southam software developer RiVR has its sights set on saving lives and the taxpayer millions of pounds, by providing the UK’s fire and rescue services with a photo-realistic training environment using virtual reality (VR) headsets.
The firm has developed a programme which scans any real-world scene using lasers and high-definition photography and displays it as a 360° interactive environment in a VR headset.
Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) has invested £50,000 in the software, which RiVR has used to create a virtual burned-out warehouse which is fully-interactive and replicates the sort of training scenarios firefighters are routinely exposed to, along with a set of 360° videos to train fire engine drivers.
The software allows trainees to walk around a warehouse and inspect the street outside, pick up objects, find evidence, assess casualties and even feel for a pulse.
Simultaneously a trainer can watch the trainee’s every move and give real-time feedback on how the trainee has dealt with the scene.
Creating a typical real-life training scenario costs around £8,000, so using a VR training environment can save this amount every time the reset button is pressed.
The opportunity arose from a chance meeting 18 months ago between RiVR CEO Alex Harvey and Paul Speight from Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service.
Before founding RiVR, Alex worked for Southam-based game developer Codemasters for eight years. He is using many of the techniques used in the gaming industry to develop the software.
Thanks to RiVR’s work in Leicestershire, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has recommended the software be adopted by all the UK’s fire and rescue services and, to date, 30 out of the 47 services have signed up.
RiVR has also applied for £1million funding from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the USA which, if successful, would fund two years’ research and development into the product.