Product Design:

CPR VR Training Simulation

Copyright © 2018 Vancouver General Hospital CESEI

For this project I worked alongside Engineers, Artists, and other Designers to design a prototype for a CPR Training Virtual Reality Application. Among the work I did was producing a detailed Feasibility Report outlining the Technical, Market, and Financial challenges involved in the development of such an application. The full report is currently under NDA and not available for public view, however, a few snipets of it are shown below together with a video of our low res prototype. The prototype application was developed for the Centre of Excellence for Simulation Education and Innovation at the Vancouver General Hospital and as part of a program to raise awareness and preparedness in CPR.


The Goal:

Raise CPR Awareness & Improve Practice

Statistical research shows that CPR —Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation— has the power to increase the chances of survival of Cardiac Arrest victims by up to a factor of three times. Additionally, one of the most common deaths in children and infants is drowning and choking, which can also be prevented by CPR. The vast majority of incidents occur at home settings, rather than in public areas. Yet, despite many bystanders being family or friends of the victims and having received some form of CPR training, statistical research also shows that an alarmingly low percentage of bystander individuals perform CPR in victims.

In addition to this, healthcare providers and medical professionals rarely practice their CPR knowledge and skills post-initial training. The reserach indicates that even professionals in healthcare being to forget how to effectively administer CPR after only a few months of not practicing. Currently, there are very limited and rudimentary tools for practicing realistic CPR without involving real subjects.

This project aims to explore the possibility of utilizing Virtual Reality technology to address one or more of the following issues:

  • Increasing the awareness and basic knowledge about CPR in the general population;

  • Increasing the percentage of bystanders willing and able to perform CPR in victims; and

  • Provide a tool for healthcare professionals that allows them to practice CPR without the need for live subjects.

The Challenge(s):

User Expectations & Available Technology

In order to determine the feasibility of utilizing Virtual Reality technology to address one or more of the goals listed above, an exhaustive study was performed to determine:

  1. Whether there are already any Virtual Reality CPR applications;

  2. Whether any of those applications are successfully meeting any of the goals;

  3. What are the strengths and weaknesses of those applications;

  4. What elements, design and otherwise, does a Virtual Reality CPR application need to have to effectively meet the goals;

  5. What hardware and resources are required to develop and use a Virtual Reality CPR application that meets the goals;

  6. What Virtual Reality technology is available, currently and in the near future, to consumers and professionals; and

  7. What would be the costs and timelines for developing and releasing a fully immersive and polished Virtual Reality CPR simulation.

Our research findings suggest that there are already a handful of Virtual Reality CPR applications that have been or are being developed. However, none of them meet the goals listed above, for a variety of reasons:

  • The vast majority of consumers are not aware of the existence of such Virtual Reality applications;

  • The vast majority of consumers have never used any form of digital simulation for CPR learning or practice;

  • Even healthcare professionals have very limited exposure to any form of interactive digital CPR training;

  • The existing applications tend to do well in incorporating relevant and realistic CPR content, and some are compatible with popular Virtual Reality platforms. However, all the applications struggle with Usability, Accessibility, and Engagement; and

  • Existing Virtual Reality applications tend to focus on instructional and learning approaches as opposed to practice, and they do so through linear tutorial-based experiences that do not encourage repeated or recurrent use from the users.

In other words:

  1. Most people are not aware that Virtual Reality applications for CPR learning exist;

  2. Most people do not have access to the Virtual Reality technology required for such applications;

  3. Existing applications lack any form of gamification or incentive for engaging users; and

  4. Existing applications are designed for a linear single-time experience, as opposed to repeated or recurrent use.

The Solution:

R&D of New Tech + B2B Approach

Our team designed and developed a local prototype, which was used to test and carry out primary research in parallel with our secondary research. From the development of our prototype and its user testing, as well as from our AIO surveying, our observations suggest that:

An effective Virtual Reality CPR simulation must be designed to provide:

  • Continuous Interactivity: Users get bored and disengaged quickly if they are not performing any sort of action within a Virtal Reality environment, there is a greater expectation of interactivity associated with Virtual Reality technology.

  • Non-visual Realism: The graphics of the simulation do not need to be photorealistic, the simulation can teach users the appropriate and correct procedures, parameters, practices and values involved in CPR through iconographic or even cartoon animated visuals more effectively than through photorealistic graphics, due to the negative effects of the uncanny valley.

  • Incentivize Recurrent Use: The simulation must provide incentives for the users to engage in repeated use of the application.

  • Realistic Scenarios: Users, especially those in the healthcare professions, expect the simulation to include elements found in real situations, such as bodily liquids, non-pristine environments, and ambient effects such as cars, phones rinings, dogs barking, fire & smoke, etc.

  • Accessibility & Compatibility: If targeted to the general population, the application must be easy to find on the web by users, and it should operate on common or popular Virtual Reality platforms such as HTC Vive and Oculus, and not require any special hardware or equipment that is not commonly used by other applications.

The ideal Virtual Reality CPR simulation requires the following hardware:

  • A high-end computer capable of running Virtual Reality software;

  • A high-end Virtual Reality headset;

  • A dummy capable of putting resistance;

  • Haptic gloves capable of tracking the position of users hands and fingers in 3D space, and allow users to do the necessary gestures and actions in an ergonomic fashion; and

  • A way to measure force and acceleration, either via the gloves or the dummy or both.

The special hardware requirements of a CPR application, in particular the dummy and gloves, make it very difficult for such an application to be used by the general population. Users will not purchase a dummy or haptic gloves that they would only use with the CPR application but not with other applications. Exciting haptic technology is being developed for Virtual Reality applications, but such technology is not yet widely accessible to and used by consumers. For this reason alone, and with the currently available technology to consumers, a CPR Virtual Reality application is feasible only for a Business-to-Business model, where organizations and institutions provide access to the special hardware (dummy and gloves).

Image from left to right:

Noor Yeslam; 3D Artist, Joana Prates; UI/UX Designer, Dougal Mac Gregor; UX Researcher & Designer, Omamah Almousa; Product Owner, Marc Nielsen; Programmer, Viet Phan; Programmer, Junsong Zhang; Scrum Master & Learning Designer.

Additional thanks to:

Richard Smith, Centre for Digital Media Faculty Adviser, Dr. Karim Qayumi, Client and Director of Vancouver General Hospital's Centre for Excellence in Simulation Education and Innovation, and all those who participated in our surveys and user tests.

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