A step forward by harnessing virtual reality

Up to the top, virtually! That’s right. Voimatel offers the opportunity to climb up a mast in complete safety with both feet firmly planted on the ground. Our pilot project for making use of virtual reality in induction to working on a mast at height is proceeding according to plan. The application, implemented in collaboration with the Kuopio-based 3D Talo, is nearly finished and scheduled for release by the end of October.

The purpose of this VR application is to give trainees a realistic idea of what it takes to work at height safely. The application provides a step-by-step presentation of the climb as well as instructions in the use of safety equipment and tools. Wearing VR goggles, the trainee is able to experience all the feelings and motions as if he or she were really climbing up a mast. The application also includes functional exercises in the climbing section, in which the trainee uses his/her own hands for climbing.

– We’re constantly exploring new ways of making use of technology and how to apply new models to our business. This application represents yet another step forward in our efforts and adds one more tool to our toolbox, says Voimatel’s Development Manager Pasi Ryhänen.

Virtual reality will be utilised in recruitment and induction as well as safety training. This autumn we are launching, together with our partner Taitotalo, a new recruitment training programme for future mobile network installers for Voimatel. In the programme, virtual reality will, among other things, be used for assessing the candidates’ ability to work at height.

– Another important aspect of using the application is occupational safety. It offers a new way of practicing and reinforcing the general safety requirements for working on masts, says Health & Safety Manager Anni Karhunen of Voimatel.

The application has already been tested in-house. The trainee’s view can be mirrored on a mobile device or a large display via Chromecast. This allows the instructor to see where the trainee is looking and give advice if necessary. The trainee’s gestures and facial expressions reveal how he or she responds to what is happening in virtual reality. Those who have tested the application report that it gives a true idea of working on a mast. The height of the mast and the view from the top appear very real.

Cooperation is all-important. The project has been carried in close collaboration with the personnel working in the field as well as the R&D, HR and H&S departments. This is the first VR application we have ever implemented, but certainly not the last. We are already working on new ideas.