Eighteen-years after he started work on his “smart glove” prototype while still at college, a Lloydminster-innovator is hoping for continued growth as use of virtual reality continues to explode.
“We launched the technology over a decade ago, but just in the last few years we have figured out what it is for,” says Brent Baier, the Lloydminster-developer of a virtual reality glove.
“Training was a perfect application for our technology,” adds Baier as his customers don’t want to buy the glove, but also the software to deliver the training for their needs.
Baier who now heads up Iron Will Innovation better known as the Peregrine virtual reality glove started his innovation when he was a student at Lakeland College in 2004.
In 2010, they released a glove to the PC-gaming market which allowed the user to trigger hotkeys by touching their fingers. He says it received some limited success as they sold to clients in more than 30 countries, but they needed to find the right fit for their technology.
Fast forward to 2017 when he put on a virtual reality headset and realized that he immediately wanted to touch things with his hands. He says that experience was like “magic” and he knew that VR gloves were the perfect fit for the virtual reality market.
They pivoted and took a prototype in 2018 to an industry-show in Texas for Fortune-100 companies. He says company representatives from car-manufacturers to pharmaceuticals were able to try the prototype
“These men and women were trying to figure out, ‘how do you use virtual reality to create benefit and value in a business?’ So some of these people started coming in and trying our gloves. And their response was phenomenal. We had guys saying,”If this was the only thing I saw at this show, it was worth it for me to come here,” says Baier.
With that validation from industry, the developer says they realized that businesses were starting to use virtual reality for training.
He says over the COVID-period the requests continued to come for customized software for the individual training needs of clients.
Baier adds the short version is that their gloves solve the problem of training by creating virtual reality training simulations in which people can use their hands. In June they did their first trade show with the new-look gloves and the bundled software solutions at the Global Energy Show in Calgary.
“The response was overwhelming. We got all kinds of companies that had various training scenarios from training people to use equipment, or machinery, maybe safety processes; critical situations where if you do something wrong, some really bad stuff can happen. We can create highly realistic training simulations to let people use their hands in there and just train people with an effectiveness that you can’t get any other way.”
Next steps for the Lloydminster-developed Peregrine glove are some test production runs and as well hardware production, says Baier as he reflects on the challenges over the last decade and looks excitedly to the future.