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FLAIM: The full-suit VR simulator that could revolutionise firefighter training

Deakin University has partnered with tech company Dimension Data to create a virtual reality trainer for firefighters.

Usually, firefighting training drills are very expensive and dangerous. On top of that, fire crisis scenarios are very difficult to recreate, making most training exercises a far cry from what rescuers actually encounter in real life.

Not to mention setting up huge, controlled fires just for training purposes is not what we would normally call the most “environmentally friendly” of practices.

Designed and developed by James Mullins, volunteer firefighter and Assoc Professor at the IISRI institute at Deakin University, this new VR training technology allows firefighters to safely hone their skills in scenarios limited only by the imagination.

The new FLAIM Trainer™ also dramatically reduces costs and lets rescuers face drills that are not constrained by community or environmental regulations.

The creators of FLAIM claim their VR experience is extremely realistic, with the immersive head-mounted display aided by a full body protective suit with a breathing apparatus kit.

The innovative system works with an HTC Vive VR headset, and the protective suit is configured to heat up to simulate a real fire.

Johannesburg-based tech company Dimension Data and Deakin Uni partnered to integrate hitoe™ into the suit, a highly conductive nanofiber fabric that allowed them to equip the garment with vital sign tracking capabilities. Thanks to this technology, the suit can send electrocardiogram (ECG) readings in real time for fitness analysis of trainees.

“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,” says Ken Mahon, Director of Ventures at Deakin Research Innovations.

About the author

Filmmaker. 3D artist. Procrastination guru. I spend most of my time doing VFX work for my upcoming film Servicios Públicos, a sci-fi dystopia about robots, overpopulated cities and tyrant states. @iampineros

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