The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) is taking its training to the next level with the introduction of deeply immersive virtual reality (VR) and extended reality (XR) simulations. Developed in collaboration with the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) and the National University of Singapore (NUS), the multi-sensory training suits engage four of the five human senses to provide trainees with a realistic and intense experience.

In these cutting-edge simulations, trainees wear VR headsets that transport them to virtual environments, complete with visual and auditory cues. However, the realism doesn’t end there. The suits are equipped with heating elements to replicate the heat from flames and a scent-emitting tube that releases smells associated with different scenarios, such as the smell of burning cars. A replicated spreader cutter with magnets simulates the resistance of cutting through real materials like car metal, providing trainees with tangible feedback during the exercise.

The XR system helps SCDF trainees get a better understanding of tasks before they are performed on physical scrap vehicles, reducing costs and increasing training efficiency. While the VR and XR simulations complement field training, they offer the advantage of reaching more trainees and providing them with the correct techniques before real-life execution.

Trials for the XR system began in March, and the technology is expected to be used for managing road traffic accidents and hazardous material scenarios. The system can accommodate up to four users simultaneously, providing collaborative training opportunities.

In addition to the XR system, a separate VR system is being developed specifically for firefighting training. This system, created in partnership with Netherlands manufacturer RE-liON, employs a haptic feedback suit that allows up to 16 users to engage in realistic firefighting simulations. The suit’s vibration provides feedback on hits or movements within the virtual environment.

The innovative training technologies have the potential for broader applications within the Home Team, including crime scene investigation training and search and rescue scenarios. With the integration of multi-sensory training, SCDF is embracing cutting-edge tools to prepare its officers for a wide range of emergency situations, enhancing their response capabilities and ultimately saving lives and property.

By Impact Lab