Crew training companies look to a virtual future

Leading superyacht crew training companies are exploring and developing new ways to teach using virtual reality.

Virtual reality is now becoming a popular part of boat shows and superyacht design, and is set to move into crew training according to Yachting Pages Media Group, a specialist in marketing products and services to the yacht industry.   Two renowned crew training companies, Warsash Maritime Academy and Bluewater Yachting are exploring different ways of using this innovative technology.

Gordon Meadow, senior lecturer at Southampton Solent University’s Warsash Maritime Academy, is heading up a ‘world-leading’ two-stage study in the development of virtual and augmented training environments, which include creating a VR based training app for crew.

The first stage of Warsash’s developments, Wave 1.0, is to be delivered in May 2017. Wave 1.0 will include the creation of an app prototype to test how virtual reality will work in teaching, using VR headsets with a selection of six case studies to help deliver immersive training to enhance student engagement and experience.

Wave 2.0, running from May this year until May 2018, will then produce the final product with a report on the use of VR. The “world-leading” project has already won funding from the International Association of Maritime Institutions, along with partnership from a number of marine learning institutes across the world. Wave 2.0 will also include a “best practice educational tool-kit for maritime educators” using VR.

Michelle Williams, website and digital marketing manager at Yachting Pages Media Group commented, “One of the complexities with crew training is that it’s difficult to imagine yourself in a real-life situation. Virtual Reality can fill this training gap by placing crew in potentially dangerous scenarios.”

Ingmar Vroege, co-founder of VR agency Bricks and Goggles and superyacht-specific Ships and Goggles said, “We can add elements like how to get to the rescue boats, what to do when there is a leak, how to stop a fire from getting out of hand etc.”

Vroege also added, “The technology is there, so it can be implemented.”

Gordon Meadow added, “Virtual reality can give students a good indication of life on board before they start, for example, walking up the gangway and seeing their cabin, or walking around the bridge or engine room.”

Another crew training company exploring virtual environments and simulation is Bluewater Yachting, which currently has bridge simulators in each of its three training locations, where students are immersed in a ‘virtual world.’

John Wyborn, crew and training director said, “The technology is at an early stage, but it has the potential to be truly transformative, not only in the classroom, but on board. One could create an environment where reality and simulation merge to create valuable training scenarios.

 “With VR, we could take this to a whole new level. Realistic looking fires, pirate avatars and hurricanes – these could be created on board.”

For further information about virtual reality in yachting, visit Yachting Pages.

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