HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Hill’s 775th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight is using a sensory deprivation, bio-responsive mindfulness pod prototype, called an Infinity Cube, to build a better warfighter who is resilient, calm, attentive and ready to take on mission challenges through mindset training.
The cube is currently in a $1.5 million, 24-month phase of an AFWERX Small Business Innovation Research contract with Lumena Inc. where it will be refined through user feedback before becoming available for other Air Force units to acquire.
The decision to locate an Infinity Cube at Hill’s 775th EOD Flight for prototype enhancements was made in February 2020 and it was installed in October.
“The selection was largely influenced by the fact that we have operators in and out of high-stress work environments constantly, directly tying into the intended purpose of the Infinity Cube to train user mindset for performance optimization in the field, as well as training user transition from a stress-to-rest mental state,” said Capt. Daniel Lange, 775th EOD Flight commander.
A typical session inside the cube is 10-20 minutes with content divided between peace and relaxation, mental training and performance.
Guided mindset training sessions are fixed at 10 minutes and follow a training progression enhancing the user’s ability to transition their mental state in the field without the use of the cube.
Users sit in an ergonomic chair and wear either headphones or an EEG helmet during training sessions. The electroencephalogram helmet detects electrical brain waves during the session. Other physiological feedback include heart rate, respiration rate and heart variability.
As training and menu content grows, the capacity to monitor heart rate, respiratory rate, and brainwaves will allow each training session to be tailored through biofeedback to the real-time physiological state of each individual user.
The cube is available and utilized by EOD Airmen as they choose. On average, Airmen use the cube once or twice a week.
“As the end user in this newly emerging technology, I view it as our responsibility to use and record feedback for the development team. At this time, we have not aggregated enough data to identify statistical changes in our Airmen’s performance. However, based on user feedback, Airmen report feeling a calming reduction of stress, and emerge feeling more energized and focused to attack the challenge of the day,” said Lange.
The flight is currently selecting a team of eight Airmen to conduct more regimented sessions at prescribed intervals to study long-term benefits of regularly utilizing the cube.
“I have challenged the team to communicate both positive and negative experiences with the cube and both Capt. Lange and I communicate frequently with the Lumena team for continued success with the development of the Infinity Cube,” said Julie Pinchak, 75th Air Base Wing community support coordinator.