MHI’s Overhead Alliance Launches New Virtual Reality Crane Game, Industry Today
The new virtual reality game was demonstrated at MHI’s spring meeting in Charlotte, NC earlier this year.

The Overhead Alliance (OA), a marketing vehicle for trade association MHI’s overhead lifting product groups, will launch an interactive, virtual reality (VR) game next month (September), designed to engage students and others keen to learn about the technologies they represent.

OA serves as a commercial vehicle, promoting the collective interests of the Crane Manufacturers Association of America (CMAA), Hoist Manufacturers Institute (HMI) and Monorail Manufacturers Association (MMA). It is principally challenged with raising the profile of overhead lifting equipment above competing material handling technologies.

To that end, OA communicates through a myriad of mediums to reach target audiences. They developed a new virtual reality crane game, which is a fun and educational experience that shows what it is like to operate an overhead crane. The game uses cutting edge technology that brings you inside a realistic manufacturing shop floor. It gives its users a 360-degree, real-life perspective inside the headset.

Karen Norheim, Executive Vice President at American Crane and Equipment Corporation, a CMAA member company, said: “With this game we hope to effectively educate users on overhead lifting. The advanced technology that the programmers used to create this life-like experience is incredible. Not only does the virtual reality seem extremely realistic, but the game helps users to learn about overhead lifting while having fun at the same time! It gives everyone the chance to take a step into a virtual crane world.”

Norheim explained that the intent is to harness the power and appeal of virtual reality to give audiences a memorable experience at the controls of an overhead crane. During the game, which should take players between 10 and 20 minutes to complete, there are different target paths that they can lift and move boxes through inside a bay.

Norheim added: “The concept creates a purpose to participation and will make it more challenging for the users. We hope that they will get a better understanding of what our equipment is and how it works. Technology has created an opportunity for us to create an environment close to what they would experience at a facility using overhead cranes and hoists. It’s a great way to allow them to see into our world—and hopefully they want to become part of it in real life.”

Eventually, the goal is to have the game available in three different options: virtual reality using Oculus Rift; PC using keyboard; and PC using an X-box controller. This will make it so that the game is not restricted to only those who have an Oculus Rift VR headset. In addition, we hope to have a version for the other major VR products available such as HTC Vive, Lenova and Microsoft.

The Overhead Alliance’s primary audience for the new game is those who have never before been exposed to overhead lifting, whether it be those in academia or adults who have been in the wider workplace for a period of time. Many might already have an appreciation of what other material handling equipment (say, a forklift truck) does, but less so an electric overhead traveling (EOT) crane or hoist.

The game is a combined effort of CMAA, HMI and MMA member companies in conjunction with Vern Shurtz and John Berryman from the Stratus Technology Group. It will be available on in September and select gaming portals later this year.

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