Tech Wizards Brings Navy Training to the Virtual World
Posted by Pine Hill Technology Park
Both in Sept. 2011 and again in June, the Naval Air Warfare Center’s Future Workforce Technologies and Strategies office demonstrated for The Patuxent Partnership how virtual worlds could be used to reduce the cost of conferencing and training.
On Wednesday, members of that NAWCAD team got a look at a working model of a virtual training simulation courtesy of local software developer Tech Wizards.
At the offices of RED Inc. in the Pine Hill Technology Park in Lexington Park, Maryland, the Tech Wizards team showed off training simulations they have developed for the Navy’s Aegis training program at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren in Virginia and for the Air Force’s flight training program.
Tech Wizards rendered the simulations with OpenSim software, the free, open-source version of the software that powers the virtual world of Second Life as well as NAWCAD’s demonstrations. Tech Wizards has real offices in Dahlgren and Pax River, but it also has a virtual office and conference center in Second Life (Second Life or OpenSim viewer required). The virtual conference center hosted the Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds conference in May 2011.
Tech Wizards’ President Ken Clark said his company’s clients are looking to virtual training and training games to be ready for the coming generation of digital natives. Clark noted that there are a billion virtual world accounts worldwide, a number that is increasing 15 percent a month. Currently, 787 million 10 to 15-year-old video gamers worldwide, he said.
“These people are going to be in our armed forces in 5 to 10 years,” Mr. Clark said.
Meanwhile, NAVAIR has just experienced a 30 percent cut to its conference travel budget, spurring its Future Workforce Technologies office to find ways to facilitate conferencing and project collaboration through other means, such as virtual spaces.
Tech Wizards appears to be well ahead of the game. At Wednesday’s demonstration, they showed how their system monitors students to see how long they spend absorbing their virtual course materials and showed off applications for Apple’s iOS that allow students and instructors to track their training progress.
“They can’t just cheat through the entire thing,” said Kenny Allwine, Tech Wizards’ software engineer.
Tech Wizards’ technology can replicate actual Navy computer hardware and software within their virtual training spaces, allowing students to virtually experience the real thing, without the risk of damage or wear. The team is also working on integrating Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral to allow users to interact with the virtual training spaces by simply moving their arms and legs.