Despite the fact that virtual reality is relatively new, it is being associated with increasing usage, which is ranging from mere entertainment to use in the military. Different militaries including the U.S. military are embracing the use of VR for training among other purposes. The latest published possible use of VR is by a team at the University of Birmingham, who believe that their virtual reality simulator can be used to create a realistic environment to train military medic. Normally, this training is done in grounded helicopters. This is not the same environment the medics encounter in the battleground where they treat casualties, in a noisy, bumpy helicopter, as the pilot files over a battlefield.
The team’s simulator allows the medic to sit inside an inflatable enclosure, which looks like a real Chinook helicopter. A virtual reality headset and hand controllers enable the medics to interact with real battleground conditions. A dummy casualty lies on the floor. A moving footage of Dartmoor from the air is observable through the windows and back hatch.
Professor Bob Stone, a veteran of virtual reality and the leader of the projects, notes that they have a realistic prosthetic body, weapon packs, various guns and use virtual reality to configure the situation. He pointed out that they are experimenting on how much of the physical world and the virtual world is needed to create a convincing scenario. Bob notes that they had initially planned for the experiment to run on Oculus. However, this turned to be difficult to integrate with Unity3D, the rendering engine that the team used. They, therefore, started using Open-Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) before shifting to HTC Vive, which according to Stone provides the best experience yet.
Dr. Robert Guest, the lead Simulation Developer, notes that they want to be in a position of giving people, at least partly, the impression of actually being within the medical environment. He notes that they have the vibrations, the sound effect, and the unusual light distortion from the rotors, all these are to prepare people for additional audio and visual inputs that they are not used to. Professor Col Peter Mahoney, a consultant Anesthetics at the Royal Centre for Defense Medicine notes that He thinks this will make a huge difference.
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