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Integrating Haptic Devices to Improve Human Performance and Training Effectiveness

ECS has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project with the Defense Health Agency (DHA) entitled, Advanced Haptics Development to Support Medical Simulated Training Environments. This project will consist of designing and developing haptics-based virtual reality (VR) training systems to support combat medicine within the U.S. Army’s Synthetic Training Environment (STE) with potential expansion to the broader medical community.

In the first year of the study, our team has partnered with HaptX, our haptics technology partner, to build a multiplayer ‘teleteaching’ (instructor and student) training system to address a burn care treatment (escharotomy). We built a prototype system to demonstrate how learners can effectively collaborate using multiple visual modalities within the medical environment with support from haptics devices to learn potentially lifesaving techniques. From a research perspective, the project includes the design and execution of a usability study. ECS is working with Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida to coordinate the usability study with medical professionals to capture feedback on the technology and training approach based on a prototype training scenario.

In the second year of the study, the research team will design and execute a TEE for the purpose of gathering evidence that the haptics-based, multiplayer STE is more effective and engages learners as compared with other methods of training. During a scheduled Combat Life Saver (CLS) training or other emergency personnel related training, the team would arrange treatment and control groups, and students in the treatment group would learn using the system while the control group would not have access to the system and train in a typical fashion. Both will be administered pre and post assessment, as well as participate in a hands-on criterion measure and complete questionnaires related to performance and engagement.

Our team is excited to contribute to this body of research related to human performance and training effectiveness for both the military and the medical community. By collaborating with HaptX and Mayo Clinic, this type of innovative work advances high-fidelity VR integration by blending state-of-the-art hardware and software solutions to deliver enhanced training to our Soldiers and to the broader medical community.