Virtual reality headsets and smart glasses among Home Team's new training innovations

Major Hasan Kuddoos, Senior Instructing Officer of Marine Firefighting Specialist Branch, explaining the EyeTracking System that will be used to train SCDF officers. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - When veteran firefighters enter the scene of a blaze, their seasoned eyes will quickly be able to assess what action needs to be taken.

For rookies still learning the ropes, this is a skill that takes time to acquire.

A new Eye Tracking System (ETS), which can speed up this process, was among a host of innovations that enhance the training of Home Team officers, showcased during the Home Team Academy (HTA) Workplan Seminar held at HTA on Wednesday (May 15).

The ETS tracks the eye movement of trainees, via sensors beneath their computer screens, as they watch a video depicting a fire scene from a first-person's viewpoint.

Based on the movement recorded, it determines what the trainees focused on. This can be reviewed against the eye movement that experienced firefighters exhibit in the same exercise.

While rookies may focus on the fire, veterans take note of available exits, casualties, and other crucial factors.

Major Hasan Kuddoos, 35, Senior Instructing Officer in Marine Firefighting Specialist Branch, said: "When you ask trainees to look at something, you don't know exactly what they are looking at.

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"But the ETS helps trainers not miss out anything, so that they can guide trainees better and quicken their learning process."

ETS test stations will be part of the cognitive assessment and training facilities in ExCEL, or Emergency Responders' Fitness Conditioning and Enhancement Lab, which is expected to be launched at the end of next year.

This will be jointly developed by Ministry of Home Affairs Science and Technology Group and Singapore Civil Defence Force, as a research and training facility.

The ExCEL will be based at the Civil Defence Academy and also include facilities for strength and conditioning training that have been augmented with technology.

For example, treadmills set up for fitness training will be enclosed in a dome-like structure that simulation scenarios can be projected onto.

The set-up will also have sensors that can analyse things like running form, so as to provide officers feedback.

Other highlights of the seminar include new training methods that will harness various reality technologies, which the media were invited to try out.

Emergency Medical Services will use mixed reality simulations, which are experienced through headsets that overlay virtual objects onto real-life surroundings, during training starting next year.

Such technology enables different and more complex training scenarios to be created with ease.

The Home Team School of Criminal Investigation plans to use voice-controlled smart glasses to train investigators.

Not only do these allow users to see digital object overlays, they also allow instructors to communicate with trainees and conduct training remotely.

Meanwhile, Singapore Prison Service is looking to introduce virtual reality (VR) in scenario-based training later this year.

Through a VR headset, trainee prison officers are immersed into a virtual setting and tasked to tackle situations like fights. Their reactions are recorded so that instructors can assess their responses.

Using VR in scenario-based training saves time and resources by doing away with the need for prison trainers to reenact the same scenario for every trainee.

In the simulation, there are also no wrong or right options as more important is how officers justify their responses.

Deputy Superintendent (2) Mohamed Nizaar Md Ibrahim, Deputy Commander of Singapore Prison Training Institute, 42, said: "We want to embed principles rather than black and white protocol, so that we train officers who think."

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