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Defence lab tests virtual reality for medic training



Simulation of battlefield conditions using Oculus Rift highlights potential for the technology in training and education

A team from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has flagged up the potential for virtual reality (VR) technology in training military medical personnel.

It has been working with electronics design consultancy Plextek Consulting to create a training system using the Oculus Rift, the VR headset that has achieved a high profile even before its impending consumer launch.

The project has been funded through the Medic of the Future competition run by the Centre for Defence Enterprise, and is aimed at simulating care on the battlefield, in which trainees prioritise clinical needs in 'under fire' scenarios.

A Dstl blogpost by Colette Johnson, who leads Plextek Consulting's medical business, says the Oculus Rift can create a real life perception of military conflict scenarios, with the trainee navigating the virtual surroundings with a hand-held controller.

A spokesperson for Dstl told UKAuthority that the project is ongoing and whether it will go into full use will depend on if the Ministry of Defence decides to procure the solution from Plextek, which has ownership. She added that it could be potentially be used for training in other services.

Oculus has announced that it will begin taking orders for the consumer product, which is aimed primarily at the gaming market, this week. It is prompting speculation that the technology could have applications in areas such as more in-depth medical training, education, policing and firefighting.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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