Transforming training for FLIR Systems

Background

The Gleechi platform and VirtualGrasp™ technology enable FLIR Systems (FLIR) to provide more natural and immersive virtual training for using their advanced thermal imaging products and services.

The FLIR Innovation Hub explore and evaluate how new technologies can be leveraged and incorporated into FLIR. Training professional thermographers to use thermal imaging cameras presents a unique challenge in providing accurate and cost-effective training scenarios.

FLIR and Gleechi worked together to provide a complete VR training experience to help thermographers learn how to use and apply thermal camera technology. The VR training experience accurately re-creates physical cameras, complete with interactive features, that are used to analyse and identify issues and potentially dangerous scenarios.
Founded 1978

Over 40,000 employees

Annual revenue exceeding 1.8B USD

Manufacturing and R&D facilities across North America , Estonia, Sweden, Norway and the UK

Headquarters in Wilsonville, Oregon and Arlington, Virginia

Introducing VR training

In order to introduce thermal cameras to new users, FLIR has been using traditional training techniques - bringing together groups of participants at training centers, with staged scenarios, written manuals and a training coordinator. Delivering effective training is vital for the application of thermal imaging where thermal imaging is often deployed in emergency situations and users must be able to use and apply skills with confidence.

Thermal cameras are primarily used in potentially dangerous situations to identify and analyse heat-sources and offer an extensive set of features to help the user apply the right imaging techniques to better understand the cause. While traditional training can provide the theory, gaining hands-on experience using the thermal cameras is essential.  

FLIR turned to VR training primarily as a way to use the immersive experience to enable participants to experience practical scenarios and learn how to use thermal cameras to perform fault-finding. Thermal imaging presents a unique challenge in training where heat-sources need to be generated in order for participants to learn and develop hands-on skills. Through VR training, dangerous scenarios that re-create real world faults leading to deviations in temperatures can be presented safely and accurately.

FLIR offer an extensive range of thermal camera products supporting different types of usage-scenarios and industries, such as marine, emergency services and construction. In order to be able to apply VR training effectively, it is essential that the virtual thermal camera behaves identically to the real product - including the camera controls such as zoom, auto-focus and temperature settings where the resulting effects are accurately shown to the user through the virtual screen.

Translating the fine-controls and feeling of holding a thermal camera to a VR headset with the accompanying hand controls is especially well suited to the Gleechi VirtualGrasp technology. Through developing an understanding of an object, such as a thermal camera, rather than defining limited interaction points, VirtualGrasp enable participants to freely interact using grasping motions. This can be applied to enable participants to perform actions naturally, such as manually adjusting the zoom level of the camera, by turning a wrist to effect the turning motion.

Delivering the solution

The FLIR VR training solution consists of two learning modules - first learning how to use a thermal camera and become familiar with its features through completing a series of hands-on tasks and then using the camera effectively in a life-like scenario. Participants perform an analysis of an industrial electrical cabinet to first find and identify faults and then photograph their findings. By using a modular approach, different thermal camera models could be introduced to learn product-specific features before then applying to the training scenario.

The virtual objects in the training scenario generate heat which the virtual thermal camera can identify and show through the virtual camera screen to the participant. As the participant progresses through the training, they learn how to use the camera in different situations - carefully analysing objects by applying different techniques and adjusting the settings of the virtual thermal camera. Accurately modeling heat is fundamental to providing an effective learning experience and the same heat dynamics reflect real-world examples.

The participant is supported using the Gleechi pedological components which are designed to speed up the learning process while not interfering with the immersive nature of VR training.
“The Gleechi VR training platform has made it possible to quickly onboard professional thermographers, providing proven training that enables our thermal imaging solutions to be deployed effectively.”

Joseph Rocchio, FLIR Systems
A fundamental part of FLIR VR journey was to clearly validate and prove the benefits of VR training through comparing traditional training methods with participants using VR training.

Participants were surveyed by contrasting a traditional training methods with using the VR training scenario. By designing a test of test criteria, the respective users were asked to rate their experience for each aspect of training.

The results conclusively showed that VR training was strongly favoured over traditional video training, with over 80% of surveyed respondents concluding that they would perform a better after completing VR training.
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