SiMT offers virtual training for LEOs and more

David L. McBride, SiMT director and senior project manager, demonstrates one of the MILO interactive training system’s law enforcement scenarios. Photo by Samantha Lyles

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” This quote from the Greek lyrical poet Archilochus might well be the motto of the latest technological division at SiMT (Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology), as the multi-modal facility now offers interactive and virtual reality (VR) training that can benefit everyone from human resource managers to law enforcement officers.

Using the Oculus Rift VR platform, SiMT is developing training programs that will allow forklift drivers to train in a virtual version of their workspace, learning with wheels, buttons, and pedals that deliver realistic resistance and haptic feedback to simulate the feel of a real forklift as they pilot their way around a warehouse that is scaled and designed to be accurate within fractions of inches.

The Oculus system uses a headset and handheld controllers to manipulate objects inside the virtual world, and those programs can allow you to do pretty much everything from engaging in magical duels with evil wizards to perfecting your welding technique and timing before ever setting foot on the Honda production floor.

“When the visor is on your head, you can’t see anything else. You are immersed in that world,” says David L. McBride, SiMT director and senior project manager. “You use the hand controllers to move things around, whatever we decide needs to be used in the program, like using tools, moving objects out of the way, pressing buttons on machinery – it detects your finger movements very precisely.”

In addition to tracking your head and hand movements, you can actually walk around a bit and explore the VR environment, and the program will track your movements via cameras and adjust your virtual surroundings accordingly.

“The system knows where you are, so if you are inside a room in the program, you can walk around the room and explore everything in that scene,” says McBride.

SiMT is developing several different proprietary training programs for industry, and McBride sees VR training as a highly efficient way to give employees detailed training without risking injury to equipment or to persons in the early stages of vetting. He adds that VR training might help with employee retention as well, because VR can accurately recreate the setting – right down to lighting conditions and noise levels – that new hires will encounter on the job.

McBride also sees high value in SiMT’s MILO Range, an interactive training tool that uses realistic firearms to educate law enforcement and security personnel in the use of force, tactical judgment training, and firearms training systems.

On the MILO Range, trainees interact with filmed active crime scenarios where armed criminals, unarmed persons, bystanders, and various distracting stimuli appear on large screens. Using laser training weapons (which match the weight and recoil of real Glock .45 pistols and AR-15 rifles), trainees must make split-second judgments about a suspect’s behavior and decide when to use lethal force. Training scenarios can also use MILO-calibrated non-lethal weapons like Tasers and pepper spray.

A trained MILO proctor (like McBride) will guide the responses of the suspects onscreen based on the trainee’s actions and words, either escalating the situation toward confrontation or de-escalating toward a peaceful resolution.

“Right now, we have 800 different simulations on this system, everything from active shooters to burglary alarms to checkpoints to domestic disputes. And we can do our own custom content, so if a police agency needs a custom scenario for a specific building, we can make that for them,” says McBride.

He notes that a number of police and security agencies – like the Florence County Sheriff’s Office – have already used the MILO system and other local agencies have made inquiries about setting up training sessions. The MILO Range website claims that students can achieve 90 percent learning retention by using simulation training.

The MILO system can also be used to help defuse volatile situations in office environments by training supervisors to de-escalate tense meetings with upset employees. To help spread the word about the latest tactics and practices to make the workplace safer, SiMT is hosting a Workplace Violence Prevention workshop on Feb. 1 from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. The workshop will include topics such as active shooter response, reducing security breaches, identifying employees who may be victims of domestic violence, and creating a culture of mental health support. Registration is $25 per person; call 843-413-2719 for more information.

Another creative training venture is the 3D and 2D computer animation and production studio, where SiMT crafts custom content for everyone from medical equipment manufacturers to Hollywood stars. Film actor Wesley Snipes recently turned to SiMT to fashion some snazzy trailers and promotional footage for his debut novel, a spiritual thriller called “Talon of God.” Clients and guests can view the finished products in a well-appointed VIP theater in the SiMT complex.

The animation studio can also generate highly accurate and detailed recreations of workplaces for use in interactive safety training programs, which meet OSHA requirements and carry a higher rate of knowledge retention for employees learning new lockout/tagout procedures.

To learn more about these training programs, contact SiMT director David McBride at 843-413-2735.

Author: Duane Childers

Share This Post On

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Posts Remaining