Dr. Eric Sikorski, Director – Programs and Research, Quantum Improvements Consulting
Dr. Eric Sikorski is Director of Programs and Research at Quantum Improvements Consulting where he leads a team of Research Psychologists and Human Factors Engineers. He holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Instructional Systems from Florida State University and an M.A. in Human Factors and Applied Cognition from George Mason University. Prior to joining QIC in 2019, he was a Program Manager with the United States Department of Defense Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO). During his nearly 10 years at CTTSO, Eric managed a diverse portfolio comprising human performance and training technology development initiatives for military and interagency end users throughout the United States as well as international partners from Canada and the United Kingdom.
Usability and User Experience Evaluation of Six Virtual Reality Head-Mounted Displays for Pilot Training
Not all virtual reality (VR) technology is the same. The general concept of VR is consistent across all head-mounted displays (HMDs), but the specifications can vary between these devices, such as the resolution, field of view, physical weight, comfort, etc. To utilize these devices for training, regardless of application domain, it is necessary to understand how these specifications facilitate the acquisition or enhancement of knowledge, skills, and abilities. The domain focus for this evaluation was on US Air Force pilot training. Previous research shows that VR can be effective for training psychomotor skills, enhancing spatial-abilities, and supporting procedural knowledge acquisition, all of which are applicable to pilot training. The Air Force’s Pilot Training Transformation (PTT) program is intended to build on lessons learned from its predecessor, Pilot Training Next (PTN), to further develop student-centric training at the point of need. One lesson learned was to take a more user-centered approach when designing immersive training devices. In support of the Air Force’s PTT program to deliver the most effective training, a hybrid usability and user experience evaluation was conducted on the latest commercially available VR devices to determine their best fit for pilot training. Participants for this evaluation were Air Force instructor pilots that had a mix of previous VR experience. The goal of the evaluation was to systematically compare six different VR HMDs, in the context of takeoff, flight, and landing, and identify which one provided the most suitable user experience and would be most effective for training Air Force pilots. While one HMD was favored, ratings differed on key elements such as near/far focus, comfort, and simulator sickness. The research presented here will describe the developed methodology and measures, results of the evaluation, and recommendations for what the participants identified as requirements of the technology to effectively train pilots.