First on the Scene: PIXO VR, GTI and OTD to Build VR Training for Natural Gas Emergencies Virtual Reality Software Leaders and Energy R&D Experts Partner to Break New Ground with First Responder Training

March 5, 2019
Des Plaines, IL
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PIXO VR, the Virtual Reality (VR) Training provider recently spotlighted by CNBC as a leader in its field, and GTI, a leading energy research, development, and training organization, have announced plans to jointly develop VR training for first responders to natural gas leak calls. To improve emergency response effectiveness and coordination, the training will focus on aspects of investigating the leak, identifying and eliminating ignition sources, securing the location, evacuation, ventilation, communicating with emergency personnel, and identifying changing conditions that utility operations and fire department personnel might face. The emergency response simulation promises to be a cutting-edge virtual reality experience, combining multi-user functionality, randomized potential hazards, and simulated consequences.

“GTI supports the energy industry in many ways and training is a critical part of what we offer,” said Ray Deatherage, GTI senior program manager for Energy Delivery, who will work with PIXO VR as a subject matter expert on the new interactive training experience. “When responding to gas leak emergencies, enhanced VR training like this will better prepare first responders to be more effective and efficient with identifying and responding to hazardous conditions.”

That training development will be funded by Operations Technology Development (OTD), a consortium of 26 natural gas distributors in the U.S. and Canada that account for 60 percent of all gas meters in North America. Supporting OTD’s commitment to safe and reliable infrastructure operations, the training will include a fully immersive 3D simulation of a residential neighborhood which trainees must search through to find and respond to a natural gas leak. Once completed, the training will be made available for licensing to OTD members and the broader industry.

To keep trainees engaged, a wide variety of situational and environmental details can be randomized with each experience — everything from neighborhood appearance, to the location and concentration of gas leaks and whether they are above or below ground, to the presence of vehicles and pedestrians and even wind direction.

“Every experience will pose unique challenges requiring different behaviors and actions. Shifting gas clouds, ignited or unignited leaks — no two trainings will be the same unless the customer wants to repeat a skill or scenario to perfection,” said PIXO VR CEO Sean Hurwitz.

Hurwitz sees great opportunity in working with GTI on the project, as well as hardware partner HP Inc. HP provides a VR backpack that will enable trainees to navigate the simulated residential environment without cumbersome tethers, allowing for a more immersive experience and greater range of physical motion.

“HP is proud to play a part in something that’s helping to transform the safety and skills training market,” said Jay Fraser, Global Head - Virtual Reality Training Segment, HP Inc. “Giving users the power and freedom to explore new worlds and possibilities is an ideal application for our hardware.”

“I’m excited for what this learning tool can bring to the industry,” Deatherage said. “At GTI, we believe in a safe, efficient, and responsible energy future. This training will help prepare the next generation of workers who will deliver that future.”

GTI and PIXO VR say the natural gas emergency training will be available for licensing by the third quarter. For more information, visit or

About GTI

GTI is a leading research, development, and training organization that has been addressing global energy and environmental challenges by developing technology-based solutions for consumers, industry, and government for more than 75 years.

About Operations Technology Development (OTD)

OTD was established as a not-for-profit company to facilitate voluntarily funded, collaborative research. OTD identifies, selects, funds, and oversees research projects resulting in innovative solutions and the improved safety, reliability, and operational efficiency of natural gas systems. Participating natural gas distribution companies pool their resources and leverage their R&D investment to advance the development and implementation of new technologies.


PIXO VR is Technology for Human Advancement.™ Our team of AAA-game designers, award-winning artists, and pioneering engineers have been innovating Virtual Reality Training experiences for enterprise since 2015. We work with customers in high-impact industries like construction, manufacturing, and energy production & distribution. Our fully immersive and interactive experiences offer photo-realistic environments, first-to-market features like Multi-user Functionality, Scenario Randomization, and Real-time Reporting & Analytics, and behavior-changing story narratives. Our training is available as a low-cost monthly service or as a fully custom experience. Headquartered in Royal Oak, Michigan, PIXO VR’s mission is to empower people to do their best work.

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