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Your Environment. Your Health.

AUGMENTED REALITY SENSOR SIMULATION SYSTEM FOR HAZMAT TRAINING

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Principal Investigator: Bandera, Cesar
Institute Receiving Award Cell Podium
Location Newark, NJ
Grant Number R44ES028142
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 01 May 2017 to 30 Apr 2021
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Summary/Abstract - Augmented Reality HAZMAT Sensor Simulator Phase II A goal of HAZMAT training exercises is to present learners with realistic tasks and experiences involving mock hazards, protective equipment (PPE), tools, and hazard sensors. However, while mock hazards, PPE, and tools are readily available to trainers, sensors that operate with mock hazards are not. Because the decisions that a HAZMAT worker makes are often dictated by the readings from sensors, making sensor readings and interpreting them are critical skills and the ability of a HAZMAT training program to teach these skills is significant. Cell Podium proposes to develop, in collaboration with the Rutgers School of Public Health Office of Public Health Practice, an augmented reality training system for realistic and experiential health and safety training of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) workers. The system meets key requirements assessed in Phase I. First, the system includes handheld devices that look similar to handheld chemical and radiological hazard sensors, and behave as if they were actual hazard sensors and the training hazards were real. The behavior is realistic both in terms of the exposure values displayed, themselves a function of the type of hazards in the exercise and their distance from the learner, and the response time to changes in the environment (e.g., if the instructor invokes a sudden chemical release, or if the learner quickly runs to or from a hazard). To mitigate technological risk, Phase I successfully developed and tested a proof-of- concept of the proposed system, and evaluated its performance at a Rutgers 40-hour Hazardous Waste Training course. A common practice in HAZMAT exercises is for the instructor to shout verbal descriptions of hazard exposure to the learner. This practice has several drawbacks: (1) much of the effort to make the exercise realistic to the learner is undone, (2) the skills of making, interpreting, and responding to continuous readings from handheld sensors are not rehearsed, (3) the instructor, who should be focused on advising and assessing the learner, bears the burden of serving as a prop in the simulation, and (4) the size large of the exercise, measured in either square feet or in number of concurrent participating learners, is limited by the reach of the verbal descriptions. The proposed system relieves the instructor from this burden so that s/he can focus on assessing the learners. A specific aim of the Phase II effort that cost to acquire and operate the system be low, and that it work with existing training program assets. To achieve this aim, the system hardware consists only of consumer cell phones to emulate the handheld hazard sensors, and inexpensive miniature Bluetooth beacons (under $35 each) that are placed on each mock hazard of the exercise. Two systems will be deployed during the two-year Phase II period of performance: a minimum viable product will be released at the end of the first year, and a full-featured product at the end of the second year. To obtain market feedback and promote product usage, the system will be offered for free to WTP training grantees throughout the Phase II period of performance with help support. The business opportunity for augmented reality sensors extends beyond HAZMAT training organizations into markets that conduct internal HAZMAT training including fire departments, utility companies, and military installations.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 88 - Worker Education (U45)
Publications No publications associated with this grant
Program Officer Kathy Ahlmark
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