Getting Trade Show Smart With: MSA – The Safety Company and Their Custom Virtual Reality Experience

Virtual Reality is the platform for launching the next-generation of safety trainings for an array of industries and workplaces

Recently, I had the opportunity to demonstrate the custom Virtual Reality experience that the team here at OpenArc, developed for MSA-The Safety Company at the 2017 NSC Congress & Expo in Indianapolis, Indiana. The NSC tradeshow is one of the largest safety oriented trade shows in the country.

The entire VR setup was recreated on the exhibit hall floor at the Indianapolis Convention Center, including an Alienware – Aurora R6 Desktop and HTC Vive Virtual Reality System, and mounting tripods for the base stations.

When the lights went on that morning and the attendees started filing in the hall, I knew we were about to change each visitor’s perception about Virtual Reality. For it was my role at the show to present to visitors that beyond gaming, VR is the platform for launching the next-generation of safety trainings for an array of industries and workplaces.

The traffic to the MSA booth was unlike anything I have ever seen. With a long line and high-interest levels, both marketing managers and training managers were a bit apprehensive about putting on the VR goggles and trying the experience we had developed for fear of vertigo or their own lack of “gaming” experience. However apprehensive the user may have been during my time at the three-day event, the MSA VR experience never failed to delight the user. Each had an almost “ah-ha” moment and after the experience many were almost speechless, with short exclamations such as, “Wow!” or “That was amazing!”

The array of use cases for VR environments specifically designed to increase training quality and trainee engagement were discussed at great length between myself, the MSA representatives and the show attendees. Attendees shared how they envisioned using Virtual Reality for training both internal and external personnel.

From memorizing simpler repetitive tasks to more serious simulation training, the consensus was unanimous that VR provides that safe environment for trainees that is also engaging. Within Virtual Reality, employees can be placed into stressful/hazardous situations to ensure that they appropriately respond to a real-life scenario, while following company protocols. Further, many attendees made mention of the fact that training in VR would make the commonly dreaded exercise of training, a fun and even enjoyable experience.

Of the over 1000 Exhibitors, MSA was one of only two exhibitors showcasing a VR experience. If I end up going back to this show next year, the landscape will be drastically changed by MSA’s VR debut. Competitors of MSA and other exhibitors quickly realized the magnitude of MSA utilizing VR as a conversation piece and as an attraction to their booth.

As the show winded down, votes were cast for more than 125 products and MSA took home the win, “Best in Show” from the National Safety Council Congress and Expo. Needless to say, the event was a smashing success. Our client, MSA was thrilled with the VR solution we had developed and OpenArc’s commitment to supporting their efforts, and I felt privileged to be made an honorary member of the MSA family. See if you can spot me below. Hint: second row, third one in from the right! Questions? You can reach me at andrewboehm at openarc dot net 

 Andy at the MSA Trade Show Booth


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