Madison virtual reality development company Arch Virtual is releasing a VR training kit so organizations can learn how to create their own VR productions.
The idea is aimed at helping schools, companies and other organizations — and perhaps even the U.S. military — make their own training videos, said Arch Virtual CEO Jon Brouchoud.
“We’re trying to open access to the development of VR training,” he said.
“It takes months for us to build an application. We wanted to find a way to alleviate a lot of the complexity and expense, and to enable trainers to capture demonstrations into a virtual-reality experience that other people could watch,” Brouchoud said.
The kit, called Acadicus, provides a platform of potential scenarios — including locations and a variety of equipment — that trainers can use to develop a VR simulation that can be saved and accessed, as often as needed.
Acadicus is focused on health care organizations to start with. “Medical simulation is the most rapidly growing area for VR training right now,” Brouchoud said.
For children facing a medical procedure, for example, it’s a way to lower anxiety, he said. “Put them into a headset and make them feel like they’re in Disneyland.”
For Brouchoud, providing access to VR training for medical personnel became a personal passion after spending many hours at his dying father’s bedside in an intensive care unit in 2018 and observing big differences in the skill levels of hospital staff.
“I wanted to build a system that would enable us to reach as many people as possible,” he said.
Brouchoud said he is working with several hospitals to create a variety of training environments ranging from a medically accurate trauma center to paramedic skills and home health care delivery.
He said he thinks numerous other industries will be interested in producing their own VR training, as well.
An immersive, 3-D scenario that lets people participate in the simulated environment is a more effective teaching tool than a video, Brouchoud said.
“When you’re watching a video, you’re a passive observer ... not a participant in the scene,” he said. With VR, “you’re able to follow along and pick up instruments,” and that helps people remember the material being taught.
The training platform was named Acadicus (ah-KAD-ick-us) because it is the Latin name of the saw-whet owl, one of the smallest owls in North America. Brouchoud’s father, Bernie Brouchoud, founded the Woodland Dunes Nature Center in Manitowoc County and had a special interest in studying the saw-whet owl.
If Acadicus proves to be popular, it could cut into Arch Virtual’s other line of business, creating virtual reality scenarios for clients. But Brouchoud said he wouldn’t mind that.
“Ultimately, it’s a bigger opportunity to reach the largest number of people to have the greatest effect,” he said.
Those options could include the U.S. Department of Defense. Acadicus was invited to demonstrate its platform at the Virtual Worlds Forum meeting in March, hosted by the Academy for Defense Intelligence. The forum is a group of U.S. government representatives researching and testing virtual-reality, augmented-reality and mixed-reality applications.
“The immersive spatial recording and multi-user functionality of Acadicus are some of the most sought-after functionalities that enterprise trainers and learning-content creators have been searching for,” said John Grant, technology innovation manager at the Academy for Defense Intelligence and coordinator of the Virtual Worlds Forum meetings.
Brouchoud said there was a lot of interest in the Acadicus demonstrations but no DOD contracts have resulted, so far.
Arch Virtual, founded in 2014, has two employees and about two dozen independent contractors.