InVeris Training Solutions, a Suwanee-based law enforcement and military training product manufacturer and developer, recently released a virtual reality product that aims to train law enforcement on proper de-escalation tactics.
The new product is a mix of both hardware and software bundled into a package that InVeris refers to as VR-DT, or “verdict.”
Eric Perez, director of virtual systems sales and BD at InVeris, said the name stands for virtual reality decisions and tactics. He said the decisions and tactics portion of the name is a key concept with the product.
“It’s really decisions and the tactics that you do when you interact with somebody,” Perez said. “It’s exactly how you’re going to talk to an individual and actually try to help them, not necessarily shoot them. You’re trying to help.”
VR-DT has a few key pieces of technology that work in conjunction with each other to provide for an effective training experience, according to Johnathan Ayala, key accounts and Latin American sales manager at InVeris.
The core of the experience is provided through a wireless virtual reality headset, which displays an immersive experience in a simulated environment. The trainee wearing the headset can walk around a 3D environment, just as they would in the real world.
Aside from the headset, two VR trackers are placed on your wrists, so that the simulation knows the location of your arms. On top of this, InVeris makes 3D printed models of a pistol, taser and OC pepper spray that also contain VR tracking technology, all of which are usable in the simulation.
Ayala says all of this creates a realistic and immersive environment, something which is essential for effectively training someone in law enforcement on de-escalation tactics.
“It fools your senses, your vision, your hearing, it makes you think as if you were there,” Ayala said. “The other day I had a trainee … I had him at a gas station, I had him take a look at the car, it’s on the other side of the gas pump. The person turns sideways, steps through the pumps to look at the car.”
The second portion of the VR-DT product is the realistic communication that is portrayed through the simulation.
Ayala said traditionally, 2D simulators were referred to as “shoot, don’t shoot,” trainers, as they only had two branching paths: one where the subject of the simulation was shot by the trainee, and one where the trainee calmed the situation.
Ayala said in a real-world situation, the resolution of the conflict can branch many ways, not just to two options as portrayed in older 2D training simulations.
The thing that makes VR-DT unique is the instructor who is running the simulation for the trainee, and a technology that InVeris calls “push to talk.”
As the instructor controls the simulated scenario from the computer that the virtual reality headset is hooked up to, they are also able to use a microphone and speak through the character that the trainee is trying to de-escalate.
InVeris demonstrated an example of this technology in action through a scenario in which a man was holding a knife in a public space. The trainee, who was wearing the VR headset, approached the man and began to communicate with him. The instructor for the program was responding back to the trainee, acting as though he was the man holding the knife.
Ayala said this is the most important part of VR-DT, as realistic communication training can help an officer prepare for a real-world situation that requires de-escalation.
“We’re not police officers, we’re peace officers, we want to find peace in every situation,” Ayala said. “So that’s where the system comes into play. We’re not trying to teach you to shoot, we’re teaching you to understand the situation, teach you to communicate.”