Avrio Analytics launches AR training tool for firefighters

Based in Tennessee Avrio Analytics released an augmented reality training tool for firefighters, the latest example of how the business of keeping first responders on the lookout for their jobs is increasingly relying on the digital world.

Called Forge, the new tool uses artificial intelligence (AI) and biometric training to, in the company’s words, deliver “hands-on training in digital yet realistic environments that simulate real emergencies.”

The general idea behind Forge is to ensure that firefighters have the communication, situational awareness and associated skills needed in an emergency.


“The biometric and performance data collected during training allows Forge’s AI to dynamically modify the training according to the user’s cognitive load, for example by providing more or less advice to the individual or by introducing a new complexity of real-time training, ”wrote Alicia Caputo, CEO of Avrio Analytics. in an email interview with Government technology. “This allows training sessions tailored to the individual’s abilities, improving retention and elevating expertise. “

AR SCENARIOS

The scenarios offered through the product include details on different types of fires or hazardous materials situations, vehicle accidents, residential and commercial buildings and yard. systems based on Fire workshop which offer two-dimensional scenarios via computers or tablets.

“Forge is the first 360-degree augmented reality simulator, offering fully 3D immersive scenarios,” she wrote. “The training sessions can be done on a large scale, requiring the firefighter to physically move around the building and perform one size larger as they would in an actual incident. Scenarios can also be run on a reduced scale to accommodate smaller training spaces.

She added that the new product automatically collects performance data, with reports generated for instructors. In addition, the augmented training tool allows the participation of several firefighters, including those in remote locations.

Pricing starts at $ 10,000, which includes the necessary hardware and software and pre-built training scenarios out of the box. The company also offers equipment rentals and discounts for small rural and volunteer services. Public bodies can also search FEMA Grants for firefighter training, said Caputo Government technology.

Two departments in Colorado are also using this new product.

“We used to do dry erase board lessons or random structure exercises as part of our training. We also had limited two-dimensional software, but it didn’t work well for us, ”said Lt. Joe Bechina of Platteville-Gilcrest fire protection district in a statement provided by Avrio.

MORE VR AND AR

It seems likely that over the next few months more firefighters will turn to training tools powered by either augmented or virtual reality – while augmented reality typically uses real word parameters mostly peppered with digital functionality via smartphones and other computers, virtual reality creates its own digital world that requires a headset to access it.

As Avrio tries to sell its augmented reality-based technology, some firefighters are using virtual reality training. A recent example comes from Wisconsin, where Chippewa Valley Technical College recently deployed the FLAIM system, complete with virtual reality glasses and training scenarios.

“This system allows you to have hands-on training while having an instructor right next to you,” Mark Schwartz, the school’s fire and EMS coordinator, said in a report. “This system itself gives you instant feedback and allows you to deal with a variety of situations. It can let you fight fires on a Boeing 737, in a national park, on a submarine, and residential fires, car fires and new scenarios are constantly being added. It’s really versatile.

A grant from the Higher Education Emergency Fund provided funding for the school’s virtual reality training technology. More and more money continues to flow into this space to boost the training of first responders through some of the latest digital tools, another sign of the growth potential in this area of ​​government technology.

For example, earlier this year, NIST’s Public Safety Communications Research Division awarded $ 9.7 million in AR-focused grants to eight organizations, including universities and private companies.

The goal, according to NIST, “Is to accelerate research and development around the use of AR to improve public safety user interfaces. These awards will have performance periods of two to three years from May 2021. ”

ORIENTATION OF TRENDS

This total grant amount may seem small when compared to all the money going into public safety and other areas of government technology. Even so, a review of how grant recipients plan to use these funds provides some insight into the direction this trend could take.

Take the example of Pison Technology, which received $ 1.2 million.

The Boston-based company, which earlier this year raised $ 7 million in a Series A funding round, develops a product called Archangel, according to subsidize NIST equipment.

“Archangel provides a unique wrist-based solution with the ability to map intuitive finger, hand, and arm gestures to the control of different AR displays and AR-controlled systems,” the paper said. “To do this, it uses proprietary signal filtering and machine learning classifiers that characterize unique finger, wrist and arm gestures by monitoring micro-voltage changes in the neuromuscular system and hand movements. , wrist and arm. “

Such a capability could help control unmanned drones and ground vehicles, among other important tasks for firefighters and other emergency personnel.

Meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is using its $ 1.8 million grant for a first responder training system called EasyVizAR, a tool that could prove particularly useful in practice for domestic emergencies, according to the NIST hardware.

NIST, of course, is not the only driver of the growth in VR and AR training for firefighters.

In August, for example, the Research Triangle Institute, a North Carolina-based nonprofit also known as RTI International, announced it was working with the White Cross Fire Department in that state. on an AR training tool.

Specifically, the two organizations aim to create this RTI calls “An immersive training experience and improve the pump panel training for firefighters.” “

The panel pump operator controls the flow and pressure of water at fire scenes, a job RTI describes as “notoriously complex.” The new RA will help improve training methodologies by giving firefighters the opportunity to learn in a virtual environment. By the end of the project, the team will have created a persistent test bed to assess AR applications for use by first responders.

CUSTOMIZATION WORK

As for Avrio, the company stresses the importance of personalization to the success of its own AR training product – a signal of what these tools in general will have to offer in order to win contracts with public agencies.

“The system includes an iPad allowing instructors to generate an unlimited number of their own custom scenarios from an extensive library of structures, environments and hazards,” wrote Caputo. “Avrio offers additional services to add custom structures or hazards if there are specific buildings or scenarios that a service wants, allowing for a fully customized training application based on the structures that a service or station responds to. Actually. ”


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