A virtual reality training simulation will give army medics a taste of the battlefield before they even finish their training.
The system uses the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset to transport soldiers into an immersive, life-like battlefield environment where they will be challenged to provide pre-hospital care on the frontline in high-stress ‘under-fire’ scenarios.
Multiple trainees, each with their own headset, can train together in the same setting using the system and a ‘simulation controller’ is able to tweak both the condition of the wounded solider and the environment by doing things like decreasing the consciousness level of the patient, worsening respiratory distress or adding gunfire, enemy snipers or bomb attacks.
The technology is the result of a partnership between design consultancy Plextek Consulting and the UK government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and they believe it could be used in a wide variety of applications, from disaster relief to medical training, within a few years.
Collette Johnson, medical business development at Plextek, said: “Our work with Dstl is enabling us to revolutionise the way medical treatment can be applied in the battlefield, while creating a multitude of opportunities for advanced health training applications across a breadth of industries.
“The innovative technology used in immersive reality solutions enables such a real-life perception that the education and response level of the trainee can be greatly heightened. Any negative psychological effects could also be improved, by preparing the trainees better with a more accurate vision of what they could experience during military conflict.”
The Oculus Rift headset uses head tracking technology to allows soldiers to look around their surrounding environment, while a hand-held controller allows them to navigate their way across the virtual battleground and attend to the casualty.
After completing the exercise, the performance of the trainees is evaluated using a debrief module that provides a recording of participants’ actions and generates an evaluative report of their actions.
The project was the result of funding supplied by Dstl through the Centre for Defence Enterprise 2013 themed-competition ‘the medic of the future’ and Plextek worked alongside Bespoke VR to enable multiple trainees to use the system simultaneously.