MMI Engineering and Facebook have something in common… They recognized the potential in the Oculus Rift platform and are ahead of the ‘game’.

Last year, MMI launched QUARTS – a Quantitative Real Time Hazard Simulator designed to improve situational awareness of oil and gas personnel in the event of a major incident.  QUARTS is based on novel technology, using the game engine Unity to model the effects of fires via radiation emitting particle models.  The 3D simulator delivers visually realistic fires within an immersive 3D environment.  As the user navigates around the platform, they are exposed to thermal radiation and therefore accrue a thermal dose.  Probit models are used to calculate likely injury and fatality probabilities for radiation exposure and falls from height/into the sea.  Injury and fatality levels are presented for cases with and without the use of personal protective equipment.

Previously, a user would run QUARTS through via Internet Explorer on their PC and navigate via mouse and keyboard.  Now, QUARTS has been deployed onto the Oculus VR platform.  This literally allows the user to ‘step’ onto the platform.  The Oculus headset uses custom tracking technology to provide ultra-low latency 360° head tracking, allowing oil and gas personnel to seamlessly look around a virtual rig, just as they would in real life.  Every subtle movement of the head is tracked in real-time, creating a natural and intuitive experience – perfect for training exercises within high hazard industries such as the oil and gas sector.

Oculus was in the news after being acquired by Facebook last week, which will see the social networking site change the way we communicate.  The technology is expected to reach consumers in 2015, which means that MMI is at least 12 months ahead of the game.  Speaking of this exciting development, David Sanderson, a Principal at MMI stated:

We pride ourselves on our ability to improve situational awareness through the innovative use of videos and simulators is the next step – it’s something we have been at the forefront of for years.  VR is the next obvious step and with Oculus, the user really feels like they are walking around the platform – it’s incredible.  The potential uses of this technology are limited by the imagination only it seems, but the benefits in delivering training are obvious, immediate and enormous..

Last month, MMI announced that they were sponsoring IChemE’s upcoming event – Hazards 24.  As a leader in risk management, it’s certainly fitting that the company has decided not only to sponsor the event – but to demonstrate the Oculus version of QUARTs at their stand.  Mr. Sanderson added:

IChemE plays such an important role within our industry in terms of developing and promoting safer operating environments.  Hazards 24 is the perfect place for us to introduce our virtual reality platform, which supports IChemE’s ethos.”