Impact of Different Stimuli on User Stress During a Virtual Firefighting Training Exercise

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David Gonçalves Narciso
Miguel Correia Melo
Susana Cristina Rodrigues
João Paulo Cunha
Maximino Bessa
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Training firefighters using Virtual Reality (VR) technology brings several benefits over traditional training methods including the reduction of costs and risks. The ability of causing the same level of stress as a real situation so that firefighters can learn how to deal with stress was investigated. An experiment aiming to study the influence that additional stimuli (heat, weight, smell and using personal protective equipment-PPE) have on user's stress level while performing a Virtual Environment (VE) designed to train firefighters was developed. Participants' stress and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) were obtained from electrocardiograms recorded during the experiment. The results suggest that wearing the PPE has the largest impact on user's stress level. The results also showed that HRV was able to evidence differences between two phases of the experiment, which suggests that it can be used to monitor users' quantified reaction to VEs. © 2020 IEEE.