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Simulation and Immersive Digital Technology Group

The Simulation and Immersive Digital Technology Group is comprised of a multidisciplinary early and mid-career researcher team who investigate the use of immersive technology, such as virtual reality, for real world simulation and educational needs. Spanning three ECU schools, this unique collaborative team bring together skills which cover health sciences research, simulation education, serious game theory, game design, animation and biomechanics.

Through use of the industry standard 18 camera ECU motion capture studio, high fidelity, human focussed virtual simulations can be produced and evaluated which are difficult to replicate in real-world conditions. Scenarios range from mass trauma and disaster triage, violence and aggression de-escalation, procedural management and enforcement of Occupational Health and Safety regulations and drug and alcohol education.

Formative and evaluative research contribute to the evidence base informing best practices for applied immersive simulation and education. Real world engagement and impact is recognised through consultation with industry partners and end-users, and the implementation of the immersive simulation experiences which are developed for bespoke industry needs.

Simulation and Immersive Digital Technology Group Members

ECU Joondalup Campus

Brennen Mills, PhD

Dr Brennen Mills, PhD

Dr Brennen Mills is a teaching and research academic employed as a lecturer in the School of Medical and Health Sciences (SMHS) at Edith Cowan University. Dr Mills teaches research methods across Paramedicine, Public Health, Speech Pathology and Biomedical Science within the School.

Dr Mills’ primary interest is better preparing health workers for practice — be this through exposing students to realistic practice environments, simulating potentially stressful or rare circumstances, or providing training interventions through in-situ simulation or immersive technology. On top of this-simulation-based research, Dr Mills is also involved in a variety of other research programs ranging from improving marksmanship training for police recruits, to gauging the general public’s knowledge of when it is (and is not) appropriate to call for emergency ambulance assistance, to providing interventions to improve the nutrition knowledge of early childhood carers.

Dr Mills was part of the research team selected for the National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) ‘Ten of the Best 2014’ publication, for an NHMRC funded project investigating the merits of an “Equivalent Walking Time’ front-of-package food label.

Dr Mills is the Chair of the SMHS Research Ethics subcommittee and co-supervises three PhD and two masters by Research students.

Dr Mills also maintains professional memberships with Simulation Australia; the West Australia Simulation in Healthcare Alliance and the VRAR Association.

Sara Hansen

Ms Sara Hansen, RN MSN

Ms Hansen is the Simulation Centre Educational Coordinator of the ECU Health Simulation Centre. She holds a master’s degree in Nursing and has been extensively involved in simulation-based education and evaluation for over 10 years in both the United States and Australia.

In her role, Ms Hansen develops and supports simulation-based programs within the School of Medical and Health Sciences and coordinates delivery of high-fidelity commercial simulation programs with a variety of industry partners. Ms Hansen is an active member of the ECU immersive technology research team focusing on the development and application of immersive technologies to enhance quality and safety in healthcare and other high-risk industries.

Ms Hansen has significant contract and course management experience for high-value clients including, most recently, the Department of Health, Western Australia, the Australian Resuscitation Council (ARC), the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA), and the Australian Healthcare Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Ms Hansen maintains professional memberships with Simulation Australia and the West Australia Simulation in Healthcare Alliance and holds accreditation from Mental Health First Aid Australia.

ECU Mount Lawley Campus

Luke Hopper

Dr Luke Hopper, PhD

Dr Hopper is an ECU Vice Chancellor’s Research Fellow and has extensive experience in managing international research and development projects in collaboration with community partners such as Co3 dance company, The Birmingham Royal Ballet and Harlequin Dance Floors. As a scientist uniquely located at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Dr Hopper has the demonstrated ability to communicate with collaborative partners, across disciplines, for the successful implementation of creative projects. Dr Hopper specializes in the analysis and visualization of human movement using 3D motion capture. Dr Hopper has served on the board of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science and the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare. In his position at ECU, Dr Hopper is developing a health education and research program with the aim of preventing injury and illness in performing artists.

Luke Brook

Dr Luke Brook, PhD

Dr Luke Brook is a certified associate with Unity Technologies for the development of applications through the Unity game engine. Dr Brook has extensive involvement in software development for serious games applications aimed at enhancing the mental health and wellbeing of hearing-impaired children and virtual training simulations for paramedics. As a sessional lecturer within the ECU, School of Arts and Humanities, Dr Brook teaches into the Game Design & Culture/ Games and Interactivity Major specialising in areas including; game culture, visual and conceptual design, writing for games, accessible game design, game development, serious games education and health.

Jess Watson

Ms Jess Watson, BSc (Psych), BCI

Ms Jess Watson is a Research Assistant, Motion Capture Technician and Lecturer in advanced digital video within the ECU School of Arts and Humanities. Ms Watson's teaching involves formulating the pipelines associated with recording, processing and implementing motion capture recordings into digitally animated avatars. Ms Watson uses the real-world performances of actors and dancers to develop engaging interactions in VR, AR and other digital projects. She then incorporates the knowledge gained from motion capture research into workshops and lessons for undergraduate students, staff members, and associated partners. In addition to her academic work, Ms Watson has worked across a wide range of commercial, independent and educational interactive projects. She is also on the committee of Western Australia's game developer association, "Let's Make Games".

HDR students

  • Michella Hill (PhD)
  • Joshua Johnson (MSc)
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