Axon, the company best known for its Taser stun guns, has announced the acquisition of VR studio Foundry 45 which it says will bolster its VR training offerings.

Founded in 1993, Axon is the company behind the well known Taser stun guns which are employed by police and military forces around the world. In modern times the company has also focused on body cams and software for administration and management of public safety organizations. This month Axon announced the acquisition of the VR studio Foundry 45.

Formed in 2015, Foundry 45 has focused on combining VR with training and marketing. The company says it has built VR experiences for the likes of Delta Air Lines, The Weather Channel, AT&T, and others.

Axon, which has previously offered VR training, says the Foundry 45 team will merge with the existing Axon VR team to bolster the company’s ability to offer VR-based training solutions.

“Virtual reality is rapidly becoming a game-changing training tool across many industries, and the acquisition of Foundry 45 will help accelerate Axon to deliver innovative skills- and scenario-based training in public safety, and will catalyze Axon’s expansion into new growth markets globally,” the company said in its announcement of the acquisition.

Axon says its goal is to use “new immersive technologies to better prepare officers for real-life situations in the field. Axon’s VR products provide virtual reality content that helps officers develop critical thinking, de-escalation techniques and tactical skills across a diverse set of highly realistic scenarios.”

The acquisition appears to have been an all-stock deal, with Axon saying that 29,507 restricted stock units (valued around $3.87 million) were “granted to two individuals in connection with the acquisition,” with a vesting schedule of three years. Axon says the deal also includes up to an additional 15,249 restricted stock units (valued around $2 million) if the company’s VR unit achieves certain performance-based goals.

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Axon—which calls its stun guns “non-lethal”—understandably has a vested interest in making sure the users of its Taser products are well trained. Not just for the safety of users and targets but also for liability and the company’s image, which hinges on claims that its weapons result in no serious injury in the vast majority of cases where they are deployed.

One unfortunate incident that recently brought the Taser into the public eye was the 2021 killing of Daunte Wright in Minnesota, in which an officer claimed to have accidentally pulled out and fired her firearm instead of her Taser.

And that isn’t the only time that mistaking a gun for a Taser. According to the Star Tribune there have been at least 16 cases in the US where officers mistook the two weapons, four of which resulted in deaths.

The promise of VR training is not only that it can feel more real—which has studied benefits to lasting recall—but also that it can be cheaper and easier for public safety organizations to deploy, allowing for more training time with a broader range of scenarios and less overhead.

Whether or not VR training could have helped avert the tragic situations mentioned above isn’t clear, but one can surely hope.

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  • ApocalypseShadow

    VR as an education tool is awesome. So many things can be learned in a safe environment before actual hands on training.

    Speaking of which, maybe it’ll teach a few cops muscle memory to use the tools they have to stop someone before reaching for their weapon and killing them when they are unarmed or not a threat.

    • Ad

      It won’t, police have had expensive training systems that are identical to this but don’t have HMDs, they still tase people of color dozens of times for no reason and no one cares because a taser is just extreme pain and not fatal. This company is disgusting.

      • Ragbone

        Was it Sting and the police?

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  • Ragbone

    I’m waiting for VR Urinator simulator, so it can help me to pee in the dark.

    • James Cobalt

      Enable cheat mode and sit?

      • Ragbone

        But that only works in single player.

        • James Cobalt

          wow

  • Ragbone

    That is genius.

  • Ad

    Glad to see VR is joining in structural racism. This company has an atrocious and painful record of enabling a ton of police violence with zero consequences because a taser is “non lethal.”

    • kool

      What was road to vr supposed to do about Facebook. There are are white nationalist militias everywhere. Defunding the police doesn’t leave a clear plan for policing a community and is a misinformed attempt at dissolving a police department and starting a new one. your right tho it’s not the training it’s the policy, police shouldn’t be able to stop you for suspicion and should get jail time for unarmed murder

      • Ad

        Have literally any balls instead of turning their heads away like 12 year gamers who think anything unpleasant or political just doesn’t exist because it doesn’t affect you? Facebook is the central organizing platform for those militias. And defunding is actually extremely straightforward when most police departments are multiple times the size they were in the 1980s when crime rates were much much higher, they’re in schools, they have explicit social media monitoring and spying departments, they’re wildly overpaid with bloated pensions, no matter how bad things get they never get cut while all the services that keep people healthy and housed get slashed, just across the board the police are not a solution to crime and they’re the cause of countless problems so they’re a waste of money sucking up all the money needed for things that actually help.

        • kool

          Yeah that’ll show those militias! Dude, I’ve seen a klan rally in 2018. If the state of Georgia can’t stop a klan rally at a state funded park how would Facebook stop these groups from talking. It’s easier and safer to track them on social media. The government could easily call these groups terrorist organizations but half of them and police are members…so what were saying about defunding them?

  • Ad

    This is the movie Gamer.

    • kool

      Lol, I didn’t see any training in that movie!

  • So it is true that the taser is a metaverse

  • XRC

    “Thomas A. Swift and his Electric Rifle” (inspiration for Taser)

    From a novel written by Victor Appleton,1911.

    Who’d have thought….