Earlier this year, some friends and I participated in our first VR hackathon—actually, my first hackathon ever. Over about 20 hours, we hacked together a VR workplace safety training simulator for the Meta Quest 2 headset using the Unity game engine. We won second place, which we’re proud of.

## Business pitch

This is a workplace safety training simulator, with the goal of reducing and preventing injuries by providing a more involved training experience.

This solution targets municipalities which have many seasonal jobs and high turnover rates. Potential jobs include waste management, landscaping, and community sports and recreation. All of these jobs share a common requirement of needing safety training, such as for WHMIS.

### Improved training experience

Reading stacks of papers and booklets is dry and boring. The trainee would retain more knowledge if they had an active learning experience, which VR can provide. VR engages your sense of sight, hearing, and touch. You can look around in 360°, move in all directions, and feel haptic feedback when you touch something.

### Cost savings

Our optimized training modules will result in:

  • reduced training time by removing the fluff and getting into the action
  • minimized need for instructors and supervisors
  • fewer injuries

This means fewer unproductive work days and money saved. Of course, there is an upfront cost for the VR headset + our solution.

### Existing uses of VR training

Here are some fields and industries that are actively using VR for training:

  • healthcare - paramedics, anatomy
  • manufacturing and industrial - equipment operation and complex machinery
  • transportation and logistics - trucks, trains, ships

## Devlog

In less than 24-hours, we made two different training modules, one for WHMIS symbols in a chemical lab and another for safe chainsaw operation.

Lab environment for WHMIS symbols
Lab environment for WHMIS symbols
Chainsaw safety training environment
Chainsaw safety training environment

We were all familiar with C#, the language used by the Unity game engine, though only a couple of us were doing the programming. The rest of us created the 3D environments. I also wrote the business pitch and PowerPoint for the presentation.

It was neat to be in a position where I didn’t do any technical work. I got the vibe that I was the team leader, though we never explicitly decided that. Aside from writing and thinking about business, I worked on a ladder safety module, but we cut that one out because it kind of sucked lol.

Writing ideas on the whiteboard
Writing ideas on the whiteboard
Creating the 3D level in Unity (left) and writing the business pitch (right) at 2:31 AM
Creating the 3D level in Unity (left) and writing the business pitch (right) at 2:31 AM

## Retrospective

I’ve reflected back on what I wrote for the business pitch. I feel very critical of it, like if heard this, I wouldn’t be convinced to buy it. Don’t get me wrong, this is not to take away from the amazing work our team did. I’m very proud of what we made in such a short time. I’m totally being too hard on myself.

On the topic of the presentation, I cringe when looking back at when we had to present onstage. I said only half of what I wanted to say - actually, I didn’t even hold the mic close enough so only the judges in the front row could hear me.