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New virtual mine exhibit launched at Dynamic Earth

Ontario Mine Rescue experience launched today

Safety is no game, but a new PlayStation-like system developed in Sudbury might actually improve safety in mines.

The Ontario Mine Rescue experience launched today as Dynamic Earth's newest exhibit.  The exhibit centres around virtual training in the world's first ever interactive and digitally simulated mine, FERDENO.

A human controlled avatar named Kyle explained the exhibit to a keen crowd of summer camp attendees, industry and economic development professionals.

In the interactive exhibit, visitors use consoles and HD graphic monitors with surround sound to immerse themselves in the virtual mine. 

“The way we are learning is dramatically training,” said Don Duval, the CEO of NORCAT. “Sudbury can be and continues to be globally recognized for all that is next in mining. 

FERDENO was developed in NORCAT's Immersive Learning Centre with the help of Ontario Mine Rescue. It is a program that can be used by industry professionals for corporate training, but Duval said they will also pursue the consumer market of regular video game players, who can benefit from the “play based learning” it offers.

For example, users might have to identify different types of fire extinguishers to overcome a challenge, a lesson that will stick with them.

The system can be adapted to create various scenarios for different clients need, and audience members were excited to hear there was a female avatar that can be used.

“There's limitless combinations,” said Ontario Mine Rescue general manager, Ted Hanley. “This challenges rescuers to think critically.”

The game is an opportunity for players to “actively engage the unknown,” according to Ed Wisniewski, NORCAT's director of software development and the brain behind FERDENO. 

For now, the Ontario Mine Rescue experience has become a permanent part of Dynamic Earth, and FERDENO's first vistors there were enthusiastic about the system. 

Summer camp attendees Danny Crowder and Andrew McGarry said the system was easy to adapt to for kids raised on video games, but said they still learned a lot.

“Sure it's a good way to learn,” said McGarry, distractedly as he maneuvered around a corner in a virtual truck. “But it's fun.”