Across China: VR, new tool for fire investigation training

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-10 18:35:00|Editor: Yamei
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SHANGHAI, July 10 (Xinhua) -- As the virtual reality (VR) industry is heating up in China, the cutting-edge technology was recently adopted in fire investigation training for beginners.

In a college VR lab, a researcher is immersed within a three-dimensional fire scenario that happened in March last year in a residential building in downtown Shanghai.

A supporting controller also allows the tester to explore and interact in the computer-simulated environment, such as opening a door or picking up an object from the ground.

The use of VR technology in providing fire investigation training came from Gu Yaoyao, a fire investigation expert with Shanghai's fire and rescue bureau. In the past nine years, Gu has participated in a host of investigations to help determine the origins and causes of fires or explosions.

"Investigations of such incidents require a systematic approach and knowledge of basic fire science," said Gu. "VR technology simulates as many senses as possible, such as sight, hearing, touch and even smell, so it offers a safer and more economic solution for beginners of fire investigation."

Gu works with a team of VR researchers with the East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai and brings the artificial world into reality.

According to a researcher surnamed Xu, the VR technology simulates entire fire scenarios including how the fire was started and the reactions of the injured.

"We also have post-production experts and programmers to help us reproduce the scene," said Xu.

Xu added that they also work closely with the city's fire and rescue bureau to make sure that their training ticks all the boxes required by the training program.

The first VR training program was carried out last August and Gu said the second program, expected to start by the end of this year, will include more interaction with the witnesses of the fire to improve trainees' inquiry skills.

"With the help of VR technology, trainees can practice over and over, so that the more they practice, the better decisions they will make under pressure in a real case," said Gu.

"Advanced technology alone can't qualify one as an outstanding fire investigator since they should have rich knowledge and experience to collect sufficient evidence. Only carefulness, sensibility and responsibility can make a difference," said Gu.