IMPRESSIVE: Jackie Uy tries the WorkSafe VR welding experience at the WorkSafe roadshow in Hamilton.

Health and safety professionals attending a WorkSafe roadshow had a virtual reality welding fume risk management experience courtesy of Company-X.

“It's really good,” said PPL Plastic Solutions Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Coordinator Jackie Uy.

Uy donned a Meta Quest 2 Headset to try out the interactive VR risk identification experience at the WorkSafe Carcinogens and Airborne Risks roadshow in Hamilton in September.

“It's very simple and effective,” she said. “It is a really good training aid. It is absolutely going to be a good training tool.”

Uy’s only previous VR experience was driving a virtual forklift truck.

Company-X senior consultant Lance Bauerfeind says it’s a unique creation.

“We really did not know what we wanted at the start. We knew we wanted a VR experience, but we had not come across one, so we had nothing really to do it on.”

As the discussions progressed the requirements became clear and developer Sebastian Dusterwald was involved.

Company-X built the VR welding experience for a Meta Quest 2 headset using the Unity game engine.

“We wanted to include learnings on risk identification and understanding that every situation has multiple high-and low-level controls. So, we are hoping to use it for internal training and engagement for our new inspectors who may not have much experience with welding fumes.”

“The biggest challenge was getting the interactions right,” Dusterwald said. “Making them feel intuitive to users with no prior VR experience. Little things, like turning buttons into objects in the VR world that the user could press with their hands, just like they would in the real world made a big impact.”

There was also some challenge in getting this complex environment working within the limits of the Meta Quest2 headset. Careful consideration went into the environment design, and what graphical features to use to maintain a smooth experience for users.

A few ideas were dropped to keep on time and within budget but the end solution provided WorkSafe with a brief yet comprehensive demonstration tool with which to engage with health and safety people across the country.

Unity allowed Dusterwald to get early prototype builds out very quickly to iterate on. This is a key requirement working with bleeding edge virtual reality technology when the best way to do things is often undefined.