Envision Center VR app teaches construction workers not to fall

ITaP’s Envision Center has publicly released a virtual reality application designed to teach construction workers how to avoid falls, as well as the application’s underlying source code.

The application, developed in collaboration with James Jenkins, an associate professor of construction management technology, was funded entirely by a $75,000 grant from the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, grant number SH-31215-SH7, of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) agency of the US Department of Labor. None of the project was financed through non-governmental sources.

By immersing trainees in a virtual reality environment and letting them practice safety procedures themselves, the idea is that the simulator can be more effective than having trainees read about safety rules in a manual or even watch them discussed in a video or presentation.

The project received a Safety Innovation Award given by the Coalition for Construction Safety in April 2019.

The application and source code have been published here on the Purdue University Research Repository (PURR), an online data-sharing platform for Purdue researchers and their collaborators under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.

The application is compatible with Windows and the HTC VIVE, a virtual reality headset with wireless hand controls that lets a user completely immerse themselves in a virtual environment. The app is an executable file and will run without any programming. Those who are interested in modifying or using pieces of the application – for example, a 3-D model of a safety harness or a traffic cone – can download the complete source code.

This project was funded by a grant of $75,000 of federal funds, which constitutes 100% of the project budget. None of the project was financed through non-governmental sources.

This material was produced under a Susan Harwood Training Grant from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. It does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the U. S. Department of Labor, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U. S. Government. The U.S. Government does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed.

Eventually, the Envision Center hopes to publish source code for all of its public projects.

“It’s been one of our goals for a while now,” says George Takahashi, the center’s technical director. “A lot of the content we produce could be open-sourced. We want to get it out there for others to use.”

For more information about working with the Envision Center or questions about the construction safety application, contact Takahashi, gtakahas@purdue.edu or Laura Theademan, the center’s program manager, ltheadem@purdue.edu.

Writer:  Adrienne Miller, science and technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-496-8204, mill2027@purdue.edu.

Last updated: November 14, 2019