Virtual Reality Training for Emergency Based Scenarios

One thing is clear: Hospital staff in particular must be well prepared for possible disasters. Up to now, however, this has mainly been done on a theoretical level with standardised training and written tests. But how can staff be well prepared for practice? How can they be trained to correctly manage an actual fire scenario on the ward with a cool head?

To answer these questions, a new type of virtual reality (VR) application is being realised in the TRACY:B project, building on the findings and results of the previous project (TRACY): By means of innovative interfaces, the training participants are transported into a highly immersive, virtual world. The term immersion refers to a change in the state of consciousness in which the training participants are completely immersed in the game situation and feel more strongly as part of this game world. This increases the emotional and motivational connection to the game and makes it possible to experience the scenario more directly. The high level of reference to actual situations should lead to the knowledge learned in virtual reality being better retrievable and applicable in serious practical situations ("transfer effect").

To achieve this, reality in TRACY:B is reproduced in great detail and the human senses are addressed holistically: 3D "head-mounted displays" provide an impressive visual experience and precise spatial sound enables accurate orientation in virtual space. Transmissions of head and body movements into the virtual world create a clear feeling of being right in the middle of things. Moreover, the training game is not controlled with mouse and keyboard, but with highly intuitive input interfaces (e.g. gesture control).

The project focuses on the research questions of which VR scenarios create a high level of immersion and a maximum learning effect for the user. To this end, the potential of different interfaces will be explored and comparatively evaluated. Essential questions for everyday practice regarding acceptance and compatibility (keyword "motion sickness") will also be asked and answered.

Through the high-quality technical and didactic-content design of the learning scenario, TRACY:B will demonstrate and evaluate new possibilities for highly effective training. Within the framework of practical applications and evaluations, far-reaching knowledge about the application possibilities of current VR hardware will be gained and made freely available for the future research and development landscape in this field.

TRACY:B is being carried out as a joint project of the GAME CHANGER Institute with the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin and is funded by the German Aerospace Center. Until July 2016, several prototypes will be created in different "Next Generation Engines" (current game engines) and using different input and output devices.