StressScent – Realistic VR training for first responders


© Frauhofer EMFT// US Dept. of Agriculture

Rescue and emergency staff often work in a dangerous environment and must act quickly and with focus and make far-reaching decisions even under high stress. This makes it all the more important to prepare for the job as realistically as possible. Scientists at the Fraunhofer EMFT and the Universität der Bundeswehr in Munich are working on a virtual reality system for mission training in the "StressScent" project. The system integrates a headset with scent dosing as well as a sensory component for the detection of the respiratory cycle and aims to develop an adaptive gameplay based on stress measurement. 

The scent dosing is made possible by a micro-dosing technology developed by Fraunhofer EMFT. The latest silicon model of the micro diaphragm pumps has a size of only 3.5 x 3.5 x 0.6 mm³, making it the smallest micro pump in the world. A microdosing technology with an array of piezoelectrically driven silicon micropumps and several fragrance reservoirs mounted near the nose enables a fragrance scenario with 15 different fragrance impressions in 1 minute. The dosage volume of the fragrance should be adjusted so that the fragrance can be smelled only once by one person. After a breathing cycle, the concentration drops below the detection limit of the nose and disappears without being imprinted on the clothing surface. The dosage is event-controlled with determination of the odour intensity and duration by an intelligent respiratory cycle recognition, which, if necessary, together with other vital parameters such as pulse, HRV, skin conductivity, provides feedback on the stress level of the test persons.

The main application for the scent scenarios in the "StressScent" project is the training of emergency medical care staff in military environments by means of a serious game. This was developed by the Universität der Bundeswehr (Prof. Axel Lehmann & Prof. Marko Hofmann) and is now to be supplemented by an olfactory perception for almost complete immersion in a stress situation and examined with regard to the stress experience (Prof. Karl-Heinz Renner).