Deakin startup FLAIM Systems uses HTC Vive to create VR firefighting training

Dimension Data and FLAIM Systems, a start-up out of Deakin University have come together to create a new version of FLAIM Systems’ immersive Virtual Reality firefighting simulator, the FLAIM Trainer. The...

Dimension Data and FLAIM Systems, a start-up out of Deakin University have come together to create a new version of FLAIM Systems’ immersive Virtual Reality firefighting simulator, the FLAIM Trainer. The system includes an HTC Vive VR headset, personal protective clothing with heat generation components, breathing apparatus simulator and a patented haptics feedback system which provides a unique training experience.

Under a co-innovation agreement, Deakin and Dimension Data have integrated hitoe, a wearable, bio-sensing nano-fibre vest which tracks electrocardiogram (ECG) readings and transmits them in real time for fitness analysis of firefighters during training. The co-innovation leverages the US$2 billion in annual R&D investment by Dimension Data’s parent company, NTT, commercialising cutting-edge technology for Australian use.

FLAIM Trainer is set to revolutionise the way emergency services train and prepare to fight fires, particularly relevant given the massive fires in the US right now. Traditional firefighter training methods are inherently unsafe, hard to reproduce in reality, expensive and environmentally harmful. Training members of the world’s Navies, for instance, has historically been difficult — logistical constraints mean the naval members cannot fully train at sea as they are constrained in use of training smoke or use of a fire hose in the middle of a vessel. Using industry standard equipment and real-world systems in a virtual environment such as with FLAIM Trainer removes those constraints and allows users to train more, train better and train anywhere.

With the complementary layer of hitoe, instructors can monitor the trainee’s vitals, and physiological response and performance during training. The data generated is ingested, aggregated with the data captured from the FLAIM Trainer system during training and displayed alongside the visuals of the training scenario being tackled. As the captured data and training session is recorded and stored in a cloud environment or integrated into a learning management system, results can be benchmarked, and instructors can review and track performances over time.

Ken Mahon, Director Ventures, Deakin Research Innovations said,

“We were impressed by hitoe and its potential opportunities to be integrated with FLAIM Trainer. With firefighters facing long periods of inactivity and fighting fewer fires than ever before, this co-innovation initiative will significantly boost the fitness and effectiveness of firefighters all around the world and put them in the best possible position to keep safe and protect our communities.”

The combination of FLAIM Trainer and hitoe has proven to be a safe, low cost and mobile solution that can simulate a range of fire events and conditions, allowing firefighters to train more easily and more frequently.

Duncan Brown, Director of Strategy and Innovation, Dimension Data Australia said,

“With Deakin University producing some of the best and brightest minds, we identified an opportunity to strategically collaborate to commercialise their research. We’re pleased to partner with Deakin University to drive innovation in Australia and create new technologies that fundamentally transform major industries.”

In April 2018, FLAIM Trainer was made commercially available in North America. For more information, please visit http://flaimtrainer.com.

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