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Projects of the joint German-Austrian call

Cooperative Research and Innovation Projects >Call 2018 >

VR-Responder: Virtual Reality based First Responder Training Using Human Factors Analysis and Behavior Modelling for Flexible Real-time Decision Support

VR-Responder investigates the basic principles for the evaluation of the efficiency of applying mixed reality information technologies in critical situations of fire brigades, rescue teams and police task force for training and real world missions. Critical psychophysiological parameters are scientifically identified and applied for the development of an integrated system for human factors analytics providing the service of real-time stress estimation and decision support under application of Artificial Intelligence methodology and concrete sensor data.

The ever increasing number of critical deployment scenarios as well as dynamically changing security situations pose enormous challenges for the emergency team members and first responders. The individual physical and psychological resilience targeting the occurring hazard scenarios have to be trained with an ever increasing effort. Up to now, training with first responder experts could only be undergone with a high expenditure of resources and therefore only allowed limited training frequencies and thus limited variability in the experience of critical and decision-relevant situations. In order to be able to better prepare emergency responders for dangerous scenarios, training environments with realistic simulations that allow for adaptive adjustment of corresponding difficulty levels are required. Appropriate simulations should make it possible to investigate and specifically adapt the decision-making behavior of persons in dangerous situations. 

VR-Responder researches the basics for assessing the suitability of new information technologies, such as Virtual Reality (VR) / Augmented Reality (AR) systems, in terms of real-world effectiveness. For this purpose, at first relevant scenarios for testing and demonstration with high stress impact are identified and concrete requirements for training, practice and deployment are defined. Then critical psychophysiological and mental stress parameters are scientifically determined. On this basis, a human factors analysis system for stress estimation and definition of a decision-making model is developed directly from concrete sensor data and by exploiting artificial intelligence techniques. This is complemented by the evaluation and integration of suitable body-worn sensor setups for real-time behavioral analysis of responders in emergency situations. Therefore, the industrial research activities focus on an integrated psychometric evaluation capability to determine the degree of realistic presence supported by mixed reality (MR) technologies. 

The application scenarios in VR-Responder reflect decision-critical activities of members of voluntary as well as professional fire brigades, emergency rescue services, the police tactical unit of the Austrian Federal Ministry of the Interior (“Cobra”) and jointly coordinated missions. The ability to optimize training in relevant, representative decision-making situations is fundamental to the safety of the emergency services and the management in critical situations, be it firefighting scenarios in tunnels, counter-terrorism exercises, or security settings in subterranean environments. The resulting research prototype can be further developed for future products that will be used in management tools for education and training scenarios for real-time situation assessment and analysis of first responder decision behaviors. 

Project leader
Dr. Lucas Paletta
DIGITAL – Institut für Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien
JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
Steyrergasse 17, 8010 Graz

Tel.: 0316 876 1769, Mobile: +043 699 1876 1769, Fax: +043 316 8769 1769
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Project partner
Institut für Begleitforschung und Psychologisches Qualitätsmanagement (IFB)
FH JOANNEUM, Institute of Health and Tourism Management (FHJ)
M²D MasterMind Development (M2D)
Johanniter Österreich Ausbildung und Forschung gemeinnützige GmbH (JOH)
IFR - Ing. Richard Feischl (IFR)
FF Gumpoldskirchen (FGK)