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VR and 360 degree panoramic simulators

What is a VR simulator?

Virtual reality simulator is the equipment that imitates a real object in the virtual environment; the scenario of interaction with such object is incorporated into the training program.

VR simulator operates in real time, provides interactivity and total immersion in artificial reality.

360 degree panoramic simulator is a type of VR simulator. Its virtual reality is built upon 360 degree panoramic photographs, which accelerates and reduces the cost of development of the simulator.

The example of a 360 degree panoramic simulator

The trainee can move around the business facility, as in Google Street View, for instance, and interact with the equipment according to the training scenario, but he/she will not be experiencing a “digital” effect, since all the features of the reproduced objects will be translated to the simulator with photographic quality. Upon switching from a virtual simulator to the real object, the trainee will not experience dissonance: everything will be recognizable – down to the smallest detail.

360 degree panoramic simulators

It is possible to significantly reduce the cost of engineering of the VR simulator by using 360 degree spherical panoramas.

When using this option, the trainee moves between locations rather than moving freely in space, as is the case with the VR simulator.

This option is effective for training on real equipment that can be photographed and programmed based on interaction with the elements of the interface.

Photographic image of the equipment provides the sense of presence, as visual differences between the virtual model and real equipment are minimal.

The training scenario can comprise a few options and/or their combinations:

Training with an instructor (including virtual instructor)

The trainee is explained a particular sequence of steps to be performed in order to achieve the required result.


The trainee interacts with virtual reality on his own. When an error occurs, it is immediately pointed out.

Performance evaluation

The trainee reproduces the sequence of actions on his own; every error is recorded, corrections cannot be made. At the end of evaluation the trainee is provided with an error report.

What are 360 degree panoramic simulators used for?

When do you need a 360 degree panoramic simulator?

— You have an expensive equipment and, if an operator makes a mistake, an emergency situation may occur, which could potentially lead to a man-made disaster and/or fatalities.

— There is no access to real equipment, because it is located at a remote facility.

— Your staff needs emergency response training.

What are the alternatives to 360 degree panoramic simulators?

Let’s review the traditional training options:

• Obtaining real equipment requires significant spendings.

• Apprenticeship training requires direct access to the equipment.

• Theoretical training or giving operating instructions – very low training effectiveness.

• VR simulators: expensive to develop and keep up-to-date.

All aforementioned alternatives have significant limitations in terms of their application.

By all means, from the point of view of training, working with real equipment proves to be most effective. But it is quite difficult and labor-consuming to simulate emergency situations using a real machine. Such equipment can be used by the military, for example: during ship endurance training.

The key difference between 360 degree panoramic simulator training and classic face-to-face training is that while both options provide knowledge, the 360 degree panoramic simulator can also provide real-world experience by allowing trainees to practice their skills as many times as they need.

The advantages of using 360 degree panoramic simulators

1. High effectiveness of training.

2. The effect of involvement: a person cannot get distracted in virtual reality because his/her space is limited.

3. The possibility to receive training in dangerous/critical conditions without risking lives or incurring losses.

4. The possibility to train without having physical access to equipment.

5. Distance training: coming to a training center becomes unnecessary.

6. Slight changes can be made to the structure/logic of the course, support in real time, as opposed to physical equipment.

7. There is an objective report on the use of skills and the level of residual knowledge of the trainee that is generated and stored electronically.

Using 360 degree panoramic simulators:

One effective way to use 360 degree panoramic simulators is during briefings or together with other forms of training (in-person training sessions, hands-on training and so on).

A more diverse, multi-faceted approach to training of specialists will result in better consolidation of the knowledge acquired in the process of training.

Training on 360 degree panoramic simulators should be methodically integrated into the overall system of training, support and professional development.

Stages of development of the VR simulator

  • Conduct a research
  • Develop training methods and the scenario, the prototype
  • Approve training methods and the scenario
  • Develop the mathematical model of operation of the equipment
  • Digitize the equipment, visualize it in virtual reality
  • Program the features, mathematical model and training scenarios
  • Testing stage
  • Integration with LMS enterprises
  • Commissioning

360 degree panoramic simulators for oil and gas sector

Effective training is the main objective of all companies working in the oil and gas industry.

The level of staff training is one of the main factors that separate a smooth, successful operation from a catastrophic failure.

Specialists of the oil and gas industry are often spread out over large territories, and, therefore, frequent trips to training centers can become cost-prohibitive, not to mention unrealistic on-site training sessions.

Virtual reality training can make the company's work more efficient by simulating training sessions, improving skills and qualifications of the operators, conducting annual performance evaluations, and etc.

The opportunities that virtual reality creates allow trainees to experience and respond to critical situations that can potentially result in huge financial losses and/or human casualties.

Emergencies such as oil spills or gas leaks can be recreated in virtual reality, thus teaching trainees how to adequately react to such events if they occur.

In virtual environment, the trainee will be able to see, hear and control all the activities personally.

Apart from the fact that the emergency measures can be repeated, the users learn advanced technical skills and become familiar with the equipment before going into the field for the first time. And a multiple user experience can be designed for a more impactful employee training. In virtual reality, the trainees that are located off-premise can perform all necessary tasks under the supervision and/or be trained by the Senior Training Manager from the corporate headquarters.