Pivot Fast - next generation immersive simulation 2

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Simulation and training are becoming more immersive as providers and businesses seek lower costs and greater feedback and analytics. This recap of the latest episode of the Pivot Fast web series is from VRWorldTech editorial board member Sophia Moshasha, of Brightline Interactive

The world is experiencing a mass shift to virtual technologies. As we migrate from physical to virtual presences, people across industries are becoming more aware of the possibilities and capabilities of immersive technologies, including the enhancement of training and simulation.

While most of the world is still exploring the incredible potential of this technology to deliver a fully contextualised experience, we as an industry are already moving quickly beyond the world’s current understanding.

Various companies have been tackling large scale problems to enhance VR and AR. Specifically, a select few are creating immersive training and simulation solutions such as head-mounted displays that are operable in any environment, full body suits that are creating the ability to track your body in space, brain computer interfaces (BCIs) that understand patterns in the human brain, and software creation engines that allow all of this to happen.

For this discussion, we brought together leading technologists that are working within the art of the possible to introduce the next generation of enhanced immersive training capabilities.

Featured speakers

Sebastian Loze, Simulations Industry Manager, Epic Games/Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine, Epic Game’s software creation platform, provides the ability to create interactive and immersive experiences. Unreal allows developers to digitally recreate real life experiences and exercises in virtual environments, and is at the forefront of the lifecycle of simulation. 

Dimitri Mikhalchuk, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer, Teslasuit

Teslasuit’s revolutionary full body, sensor integrated suits provide the ability to focus on creating realism with the interaction of physical elements of simulation. Taking it a step further, the technology influences neural elasticity, the amount of memory our brains will allocate to learning and training, which has never been done before, Humans’ pace of life is changing with the evolution of technology so that we now expect more efficiencies in the way we learn and train, and Teslasuit is actively working on providing real solutions to meet those needs. 

Adam Molnar, Co-Founder and Head of Partnerships, Neurable

Neurable is one of the leading companies in neurotechnology working on BCIs, integrated with VR devices, and is creating ways to measure human cognitive performance that translate to immersive environments. Neurable is working to quantify aspects of the cognitive experience in immersive simulation to understand human cognitive states that have been, historically, based on more qualitative and subjective means. The team is making large strides in building new systems to ingest and analyse attention, cognitive load, and neural efficiencies to significantly enhance and personalise training.

Urho Kontori, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Varjo Technologies

Varjo offers a variety of incredibly capable products in VR and MR. Varjo was created with the goal of revolutionising the training, simulation and design markets. Its main focuses include providing high resolution viewing experiences. Perfecting acute human eye-resolution is key for virtual training and VR at large. Varjo is also focusing on an eye tracking capability for gathering analytics on passive viewing performance.

MR is where Varjo continues to focus the rest of its efforts. The XR-1 headset allows for video passthrough MR and selective occlusion of the physical environment. 

The combination of all of these technologies and capabilities allows for the creation of the ultimate immersive training environment.

Value of immersive technology

There are three key pillars in the value of immersive technology: 

➨ Significant cost savings;

➨ A reduction in a timeframe to learn; broken down to receive, retain and deploy data; and

➨ The ability to measure in an unprecedented capacity.

Beyond the initial, more obvious, value that immersive technology brings, companies such as Varjo, Teslasuit, Neurable and Epic Games are making incredible strides to advance capabilities by providing even more value through intense data collection and analysis that have never been achieved before.

These capabilities will ultimately allow businesses to spend less and get more out of training. Once we collectively arrive at the conclusion that immersive technology is a holistically better way to train, we can then advance the basis of the technology with capabilities such as those represented in this discussion. We can do things like map the body’s perfect motion through space, understand cognitive load, track and measure passive focal attention, and even automate the training environment based on the combination of all of these factors.

Budget always becomes the driving force in simulation and, because of that, immersive training is the most obvious solution to overcome budgetary constraints. In fact, many programmes anticipate being able to cut their training costs significantly with the incorporation of immersive training. When it comes to cost savings and revenue generation, it starts with the software creation engines. One of the things that Epic Games did to reduce costs was to make its creation platform, Unreal Engine, free to developers to help incentivise creation and interaction between the community in order to spur faster innovation.

Personalised analytics are another big part of what these companies are offering to advance training. As immersive technology companies, we constantly ask ourselves how we can act as an interpretation layer to feed into the training system in a manageable and understandable way. Handling a large amount of data has been tricky in traditional simulation systems. We have a responsibility as leaders in the space to move beyond the raw data and numbers into discovering new findings and understandings to gather and interpret that information.

To help facilitate this, the solution providers in this discussion are working to integrate with other hardware and software providers to make sure that users and developers are able to use the immersive reality tools of their choice to create the appropriate simulations for specific use cases. Monolithic solutions in simulation do not exist anymore so the industry needs to make sure to be inclusive of all the hardware and software solutions, in order for creators to be able to combine the best of these various solutions.

We traditionally learn through translation methods such as reading text, watching video, viewing photos, or listening to lectures in a classroom. In doing this, the trainee will naturally fill in the gaps for how the information they are learning fits in with the actual context of a certain scenario. Immersive technology allows us to recreate that original context to get the most amount of fidelity and realism, and to facilitate higher levels of comprehension and lower levels of distraction. The trainee is then able to recall that original context a lot faster and much more accurately in their minds. We can recreate original context by keeping in the important aspects of the scenarios that allow users to learn and leave out aspects of original context that are distractions and limit our ability to learn. These attributes are significant enhancers to traditional means of learning and training.

Adaptive virtual environments

Immersive technology developers have achieved the ability to give users a realistic, embodied experience for the ultimate training tool. The teams in this discussion are working on ways to take these personalised experiences to new levels by automating the environment so it is objectively tailored to the user or trainee’s performance, with the ability to track, measure and manipulate cognitive state, and focus focal areas at any given point in time and what the user is doing at any given point in time.

Brightline Interactive’s Performance Adaptive Virtual Engine (PAVE) enables VR scenarios to be adaptive to a user’s active or passive performance. The simulation learns both the individual user behaviour and the trends of the collective so that we can uncover aspects of training effectiveness that have not yet been addressed or answered. Cognitive human performance is a big focus within the US Department of Defense. The understanding of an individual’s passive performance, combined with automated tailoring of training, has created opportunities to perfect individualised training at scale.

In addition to enabling better training for end users, with automated virtual systems, we are able to create next-generation instructors by reducing manpower and logistics, and removing unnecessary distraction from the instructors. We now have the opportunity to bring instructors into the contextualised training experience in order to maximise instructor effectiveness of transitioning knowledge from one human to the next. Immersive technology is helping instructors to learn how to interact with these new tools and how to best use these tools to maximise impact.

There are significant ways that immersive technology will continue to enhance training and simulation effectiveness. Thanks to our guests on this episode of Pivot Fast, we will continue to push the boundaries of these capabilities to create robust, smart training systems.

About the author

An evangelist in immersive technology, Sophia Moshasha spends her time educating the community on applications of virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). She is currently director of immersive platforms at Brightline Interactive, an immersive technology company that produces custom interactive technology, to include VR and AR experiences, for brands, agencies and government entities. Sophia is also vice president of the VR/AR Association Washington DC chapter, co-chairs the association’s marketing and defence committees, and co-hosts the association’s podcast, Everything VR & AR.

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Main image: Sebastian Loze, Dimitri Mikhalchuk, Adam Molnar and Urho Kontori

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