Challenges for user interfaces in VR-supported command team training


Johan Jenvald, Magnus Morin, Henrik Eriksson


Virtual Reality (VR) enables new ways of training emergency-response personnel to manage various critical situations. However, the new opportunities also raise questions how trainees interact with the VR-environment. In this paper we explore different interfaces that can be considered in training a joint command team with members from different professions.

The concept of team is central to the dynamic control of complex and dynamic situations, where control demands extend beyond the capabilities of a single commander. Command teams are composed of leading officials representing multiple organizations supported by staff officers and systems operators. Role playing exercises are simulation-based exercises where the participants are real decision makers, who act in their professional roles. Such exercises strive for realism in that it uses real groups, tasks, ecological settings, and social system in the simulation content.

Interfaces to VR for command team training operate on three levels: representation, stimulation and immersion. The first level of VR support is to use the VR environment as a common representation of the state of the simulated world, which is reported back to the trainees by the training staff. The next level of VR support adds the ability for the command team to receive information directly from the VR environment by means of stimulation, which means that that a subset of the information available in the VR-environment is presented in various displays used by the trainees. The third level of VR support introduces the ability for command team members to be immersed in the VR environment.

VR can extend the capabilities of established and time-tested simulation-based methods for command team training. Selecting the appropriate level of VR support when designing interfaces is crucial for the functionality of the resulting training system. Interfaces based on VR representation and VR stimulation are straightforward to introduce in the training situation, whereas it necessary to proceed with caution when considering solutions based on VR immersion. VR immersion is a technology that affects the fundamental principles of teamwork and team training.