Step into their shoes

"You can actually look around, see your own hands, and gaze 50 metres down to the ground."

Imagine being perched 50 metres above the ground atop a transmission tower in the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, trying to fix an intricate electrical issue while the wind whips at your clothes and howls in your ears.

This is the reality facing linesmen, and thanks to a new virtual reality system run by Tas Networks at Agfest, the public can experience this dizzying experience for themselves.

"The virtual reality experience shows the extents TasNetworks go to so people can switch on their lights, turn on their toaster, flick on the heater, and deliver power into your home," said Linda Manaena, Tas Network's brand and communications leader.

"Our linesmen go to great lengths - and heights - to inspect and maintain our transmission and distribution network. This program lets you experience what our linesmen and the maintenance crew see when they are on top of those towers," she said.

The viewer places on a large set of goggles and head phones, and uses two hand-held controllers, which fully immerses them in the program.

Once the program loads, the viewer finds themselves on top a dizzyingly-high transmissions tower, waving good-bye to a chopper that has just dropped them off.

The viewer must then finish the typical tasks that real linesmen face, such as isolating the power or replacing a floor panel.

During one task, the viewer is directed to replace a missing floor panel, and cover a gaping hole in the platform, but they can do anything - including tossing it over the edge of the tower to watch it plummet to the ground.

"However, if a viewer chooses to do this they will receive a message informing them that this action was dangerous, and that a major violation has been recorded," said Ms Manaena.

At that point, the viewer would no longer be able to continue the tasks in the program and a chopper will arrive alongside the platform to pick them up.

"It is quite an unreal, and amazing experience," said Ms Manaena.

"You can actually look around, see your own hands, and gaze 50 metres down to the ground."

The viewer interacts with an environment created from real footage around Mount Wellington and other places in Tasmania that was merged to form a computer-generated landscape typical of the Tasmanian wilderness.

"The image of the transmission tower is very much like our transmission towers," said Ms Manaena. "Everything, even right down to the gloves on your hands, is very close to the ones our linesmen use."

She said the experience gives people a chance to understand the working lives of linesmen.

"But it could definitely be used for a whole bunch of other purposes in the future, such as for training."