TUAS introduces MarSEVR – Maritime Safety Education with VR Technology

TUAS introduces MarSEVR – Maritime Safety Education with VR Technology

The MarSEVR (Maritime Safety Education with VR Technology) was developed Game Lab of the Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS) Research Group of Futuristic Interactive Technologies, The research lead by Prof. Dr. Evangelos Markopoulos and Prof. Dr. Mika Luimula in close cooperation with Aboa Mare maritime specialists to practice situational awareness and decision making by replicating a ship bridge environment.

MarSEVR is a prototype of a maritime VR training technology which can be utilized to train both trainees and professionals. Compared to traditional command bridge simulators, the MarSEVR developers had no limitations while designing the learning content. The technology adopts the same design principles as in the game industry to implement, immersive training scenarios that assure the engagement of the user to understand the right decision-making factors in a gamified environment. In addition, these learning environments can be fully configurable with a full range of customized features and difficulty levels. After an exercise has been completed a debriefing is provided by the instructor and a playback of the whole exercise is shown.

At this moment, the technology is focused on usability and user experience studies before creating further training scenarios with various difficulty levels. The first training scenario was designed to be a watch change and collision avoidance situation, where the learning goals are for the trainee to practice paying attention to the equipment’s status and settings and to take actions when required for collision avoidance.

This training episode consists of tutorial and command bridge stages. All controllers to be used in the command bridge stage are first introduced. At the moment, trainees must use VR controllers which are especially challenging for unexperienced users without any gaming experience. Therefore, in this MarSEVR training episode, the interaction methods have been minimized to a trackpad button which is highlighted in all interactions. In addition, interactive objects are also highlighted to help users familiarize themselves in this immersive training environment. The research is extended to integrate high resolution Varjo VR devices for the precision of the recognition of objects in the ship’s horizon. In addition, these devices will also provide eye tracking information to be used in human behavior observation. To increase the usability and to avoid the use of VR controllers, for example, the use of a Leap Motion sensors would offer finger recognition.

The results of this research have been published as an academic paper:
Evangelos Markopoulos, Jenny Lauronen, Mika Luimula, Pihla Letho, Sami Laukkanen. (2019). Virtual Training Technology in Maritime Safety. CogInfoCom – Proceedings of the 10th IEEE International Conference on Cognitive InfoCommunications, CogInfoCom, Vol. 1, pp 283-288. October 23-25 2019. Naples, Italy