The first thing that I think of when I hear virtual reality is the Aerosmith video Amazing. If you grew up in the 1990’s you know the one I’m talking about. It’s the one where Alicia Sliverstone and Jason London are in the desert on the motorcycle, except the whole thing is the virtual world. Jason London has a desk full computer monitors, electronics, and a giant headset in order to create this fake world.

Long story short, the technology for virtual reality has become much more refined. The headsets have become much smaller, and the programs have greatly improved from the 1990’s.  So much so that Detroit-based DTE Energy and Royal Oak-based Vectorform have partnered together to provide technicians the ability to train on high-consequence (or dangerous) jobs.

“Vectorform is committed to delivering innovative digital products and experiences, and this application is leading the way for energy companies nationwide to focus on performance and safety,” said Jason Vazzano, CEO of Vectorform. “We are excited to once again partner with DTE Energy to drive an industry first and integrate the HTC Vive platform into the energy company’s workforce training programs.”


The platform technology, developed by HTC and called “Vive,” will allow technicians the opportunity to develop the gross motor skills before heading out in the real world, where the possibility of injury is high.

Technicians have the ability to walk around while using the simulator, which helps them train in a life like space. The program has wireless 360 degree motion tracking, and a 110-degree field of view.

The program will teach technicians how to operate at great heights, how to repair a downed wire, and how to turn off gas lines.

“Through this partnership, we are able to advance our goal of offering the most effective, value-added training available in the workplace. Technicians will practice in simulated hazardous situations, all while improving task performance, enabling DTE to continue to deliver the best customer service across Michigan.” Said Shawn Patterson, vice president and chief learning officer for DTE Energy.

Virtual reality in the workplace is not a new thing. The military often uses simulators to train in a completely immersive reality. This helps cut down on the time it takes soldiers to train.

When asked about the time line for the virtual reality training beginning the Social Media Specialist David Lingholm said that “We are beginning to roll it out slowly. This truly is the first phase launch of the training.”

DTE and Vectorform have worked together in the past with the 2015 launch of Powerley. Powerley is app and hardware that measures energy consumption. This gives customers the ability to reduce the energy they are using in their homes.


During the announcement guests (including myself) were able to try out the simulators and to really get a feel of what virtual reality is like. My biggest concern was getting motion sickness. I can’t play first person video games without my stomach turning. Needless to say, I did not experience motion sickness at all.

After I was all hooked up with my headset, headphones, and controllers I went to the bottom of the ocean and stood on the top deck of a sunken ship. As fish and stingrays were swimming around me I could turn around and see the entire ship. As time went on a blue whale made its way in front of me. Everything is created to scale, so this blue whale was huge. It looked so close that I could touch it, but obviously I couldn’t because it wasn’t real.


After I got use to the simulator they put me into the actual DTE training program. My job was to go through each step and cut down a downed tree. Had this been the real world I would have cut my foot because I dropped the chainsaw on it. Luckily this was just a training simulator.

I’m not sure what I looked like while I was in virtual reality, but I do know that this was not the 90’s anymore.

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