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[FEATURED NEWS] HTX mentors SUTD Capstone projects on next-gen training systems

Of the 9 SUTD Capstone projects mentored by HTX this year, two built next-generation training systems for the Home Team.

SUTD students Koh Wen Xin (left) and Darren Chow De Jian (right) with their haptic gloves. (Photo: HTX)

Imagine you are a Home Team officer and need to practise performing body searches. Instead of practising on classmates, you don Virtual Reality (VR) googles and haptic feedback gloves. With the VR googles, you see and hear a digital avatar created by the training system, and with the gloves you feel pressure and force when touching the avatar in the VR environment. An artificial intelligence (AI) speech recognition system even allows you to talk to the avatar. This training system is not science fiction – it’s one of the Capstone projects built this year by students from Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) with mentorship and support from HTX.

Since HTX’s inception in 2019, Xponents have been mentoring and supporting SUTD projects every year, and some SUTD graduates – such as Timothy Lim whose “A.L.A.N. for emergency drone landing” Capstone project was supported by HTX’s Robotics, Automation, and Unmanned Systems (RAUS) Centre of Expertise (CoE) in 2022 – have gone on to join HTX!

Of the 9 Capstone projects mentored by HTX this year, Human Factors & Simulation (HFS) CoE guided two projects which built next-generation training systems. HFS CoE has deep experience in this field as its scientists and engineers have developed next-generation training systems for the Home Team, including a Mixed Reality (MR) training system for bloodstain pattern analysis, an Extended Reality (XR) training system for road traffic accidents and HazMat (hazardous materials) incidents, and a VR firefighting training system.

The first Capstone project, CVRS (Complementary Automative VR Search), is a VR training system enhanced with haptic feedback which is designed to help Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) trainees learn how to conduct vehicle inspections for smuggled contraband such as weapons, drugs, and other illegal items. Not only does the system allow ICA trainees to hone their skills in vehicle inspection in a safe VR environment, it also assesses the quality of their inspection procedures. See how ICA trainees can use CVRS to practice performing vehicle inspections:

The CVRS team. Back row, from left to right: Ng Jowie, Baarath S/O Sellathurai (Joe), Adrian Oh (HTX mentor), and Derek Chong (HTX mentor). Front Row, from left to right): Joshua Lim Hong Jun, Koh Wen Xin (with glove), and Anushree Rawat. Elliot Low Ming En and Muhammad Ilyas Bin Haslan were not in the photo. (Photo: HTX)

HTX mentor Derek Chong shared that HFS CoE will be working with ICA to further refine the VR training system for end user trials. He also added that working with the students “has been an immensely delightful journey; their team spirit and resilience from the system’s conceptual stage to actualisation is truly commendable”.

The second project, the Self-Guided Haptic Body Search Virtual Reality Training System – as mentioned earlier in the introduction – is a VR training system enhanced with haptic feedback that helps ICA trainees learn the proper procedures for conducting body searches. The students incorporated OpenAI’s Whisper AI to add speech recognition to the training system. This is important as the body search procedure requires the officer to give verbal instructions to the subject.

As with CVRS, the Self-Guided Haptic Body Search VR Training System can help ICA trainees improve their body search procedures by providing them with feedback on their performance, as you can see in this video:

The self-guided haptic body search VR training system team. Front row, from left to right: Chan Yi Xiang and Hayden Ang Wei En. Back row, from left to right: Lee Yu Xian (HTX mentor), Katragadda Sahana, Sharryl Seto Shau Ru, Darren Chow De Jian, Assistant Professor Lim Kwan Hui (Capstone mentor), Bryan Sitoh Chin Weng, and Leow Khim Han (HTX mentor). Mandis Loh Zhi Cheng was not in the photo. (Photo: HTX)

HTX mentor Leow Khim Han said that HFS CoE will also be working with ICA to optimise the hardware and software of the self-guided haptic body search VR training system for end user trials. He added, “Mentoring the students has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life in HFS CoE. Within these short few months, seeing their curiosity blossom, their skills grow, and developing the product from scratch to a working prototype has been a truly rewarding experience.”

Students felt the same way about their mentors. Bryan Sitoh Chin Weng, who led his team, shared, “We are incredibly grateful to HFS CoE for their invaluable mentorship. Their input has been pivotal in shaping our project, guiding its direction, and enhancing its progress. Their insightful feedback has played a crucial role in refining our work for our clients and we would not have made it thus far without their guidance.”