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Virtual training study goes live

18 August 2015
Sarah Hibbard is part of a Graduate Industry Placement at DST Group Edinburgh.
Sarah Hibbard is part of a Graduate Industry Placement at DST Group Edinburgh.

Up to 60 defence civilian and military personnel will be taking part in a study exploring virtual reality technology as a means to improve training, education and performance within the military environment.

The exercise will take place over a four week period in DST Group's Human Performance and Simulation Laboratory in Edinburgh South Australia, which has been established to support studies exploring how military personnel work and respond under certain operational conditions. The facility uses cutting edge simulation technologies based on gaming technologies to increase the realism and immersion of simulated military scenarios designed to test the cognitive performance of each participant.

Being undertaken by Sarah Hibbard as part of a Graduate Industry Placement at DST Edinburgh, the study will form the thesis component of her degree in Master of Psychology (Organisational and Human Factors) at the University of Adelaide.

"The study will test each participant individually over a 1.5 hour period, commencing with a written survey to collect data on demographics, digital literacy, and immersive tendencies. Using the Oculus Rift virtual reality head-mounted display or a desktop computer, each participant will then undertake an initial training session and complete two missions as a driver within the laboratory's vehicle simulator," explained Sarah.

Observations noted by Sarah prior to, during, and after completion of each task will assist in measuring the participant's level of presence experience in the simulator.

"I am hopeful that the study will provide a greater understanding of how display types and instruction formats can influence one's sense of presence and performance within the virtual environment. These findings will assist the set-up and design of future simulations within Defence."

Outcomes of the study will inform research being undertaken by scientists in DST's Human Performance and Simulation Laboratory, which is helping Army understand the potential of gaming technologies, such as virtual reality, for enhancing the quality of training.