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12 June, 2014 - 08:31 By News Desk

Battlefield medical technology launched in Cambridge


Cambridge UK technology company, Plextek Consulting has created a new medical immersive simulation training system for the military, using the virtual reality headset, the Oculus Rift.

The smart solution can simulate pre-hospital care on the battlefield and allows trainees to negotiate and prioritise clinical needs, teaching teamwork and decision-making skills within high-stress ‘under-fire’ scenarios.

Using the Oculus Rift, soldiers can look all around their surrounding environment, navigating with a hand-held controller to head across the virtual battleground and attend to the casualty.

The project has been successfully completed for the Government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

With funding supplied by Dstl through the Centre for Defence Enterprise 2013 themed-competition ‘the medic of the future’, Plextek  worked alongside Bespoke VR to enable multiple trainees to use the Oculus Rift headset and still be located within the same setting together. 

A chosen simulation controller can then select particular complications to add to either the wounded solider or environment around them, including decreasing the consciousness level of the injured solider, worsening respiratory distress, gunfire, enemy sniper or bomb attack.

The virtual simulation has huge potential to expand existing ‘moulage’ training, which typically involves actors with painted-on wounds in a sterile setting. By placing the soldiers within an immersive, life-like battlefield environment the solider can learn to be far better prepared for incidents on the frontline.

After completing the exercise, the performance of the trainees is evaluated using a debrief module that provides a recording of participants’ actions and generates an evaluative report of their actions.

In the near future, Plextek believes this technology can be utilised to allow multiple training applications across different industries. This could range from disaster relief to medical training for specialist trauma scenarios and has the potential to be fully implemented over the next 2-3 years.

Collette Johnson, Medical Business Development, Plextek Consulting said: “Our work with Dstl is enabling us to revolutionise the way medical treatment can be applied in the battlefield, while creating a multitude of opportunities for advanced health training applications across a breadth of industries.

“The innovative technology used in immersive reality solutions enables such a real-life perception that the education and response level of the trainee can be greatly heightened. Any negative psychological effects could also be improved, by preparing the trainees better with a more accurate vision of what they could experience during military conflict.”

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