A First Responder Centered Design approach will be used to create virtual training for firefighters and establish the first persistent testbed for evaluating public safety AR technologies in North Carolina
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.—A team of researchers at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, has received funding to design, implement and evaluate the use of augmented reality (AR) environments by first responders, in partnership with the White Cross Fire Department in Orange County, NC. The researchers will use Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 goggles to project self-contained holographic AR, developed by RTI, in an effort to create an immersive training experience and improve pump panel training for firefighters.
The pump panel operator controls water flow and pressure as firefighters tend to a blaze– a notoriously complex task. The new AR will help improve training methodologies by giving firefighters the ability to learn in a virtual environment. On completion of the project, the team will have created a persistent testbed to evaluate AR applications for use by first responders.
“This is truly innovative work and a big step in the right direction toward not only increasing safety for firefighters during training, but the safety of our community,” said Robert Furberg, a senior clinical informaticist at RTI and principal investigator project. “Our team will focus on new methodologies for co-creating AR resources with first responders, developing a training curriculum with fire service instructors, and conducting usability testing of the application to make sure that it is easy to use and efficient.”
RTI’s First Responder Centered Design approach is tailored to support the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Public Safety Communications Research division’s goals for stimulating commercial and technical organizations to create and support a market for public safety user interfaces by improving the current state of AR technologies for firefighters, emergency medical responders, and law enforcement operations and tasks.
“Pump panel operators are faced a complex task and usually face several distractions at the scene of an emergency, making it difficult to focus on the specific cues they learn during training,” said Chief Phillip Nasseri at the White Cross Fire Department. “Our hope is that this new AR will improve the training process and give firefighters the ability to practice and improve their skills through virtual experiences rather than on the scene of an emergency.”
The RTI team estimates that the project will take two years to complete. Funding for this project was supplied by NIST.