On the evening of Wednesday, September 25th, 2019, Halldale Group Industry Reporter Amanda Towner, CEO and President Andy Smith, and Business Manager for the U.S. Holly Foster attended the VR/AR Association (VRARA) Central Florida Chapter Meeting and Technology Showcase at the Orlando Science Center in Orlando, Florida. The following day, the Halldale staff, including Business Manager for Europe Natalie Morris, continued exploring the use of technology in the training industry by attending the Florida Simulation Summit at the Orange County Convention Center.
The VRARA chapter meeting was sponsored by the Orlando Science Center, the University of Central Florida (UCF), and the DiSTI Corporation and was led by Chief Revenue Officer of the DiSTI Corporation and VRARA Orlando Chapter President John Cunningham.
VRARA Technology Fair
The evening began with a technology fair. Members of the chapter displayed their innovative products and programs in the science center for the public, allowing everyone to not only view the products in action, but also to become completely immersed in them by trying it out for themselves. Companies included CyberDream, Xennial Digital, SimBlocks, Varjo, Eyeflyapps, Serl.io, and the Digital Animation and Visual Effects School.
Miles Heckendorn, Varjo Technical Support for North America, showed us Varjo’s VR-1 virtual reality (VR) headset in an Airline Traffic Controller program, which simulated what the environment would be like in a control tower. Instead of being immersed into the program initially after putting on the headset, we were each taken through the device’s calibration sequence first. Similar to clicking several points on a phone to calibrate its touchscreen, each person followed their gaze on a white dot that travelled inside the headset. The “glints” inside the device tracked eye-movement as we went through the calibration sequence, and when the device attained enough information to accurately produce eye-tracking, the VR program began.
Of course, when it was my turn, I had to test out its accuracy for my own sake, right? I moved my eyes as quickly as possible anywhere I could in the control tower, and to my surprise, the red circle tracker pinpointing my gaze was had stayed in sync without a delay. Birds were flying behind the tower, and as I swung around to my left to follow them, the glints knew exactly which bird I was following in the flock.
While I was testing its accuracy, I made quite a scene for my colleague Foster who laughed as my eyes buzzed sporadically in my self-made science experiment. She could see everything on the screen that I was seeing through a desktop view — including the red tracker that showed exactly where my eyes were looking and what I was doing. Talk about someone being inside your head!
For training, this means an instructor would know exactly what a student was doing inside the program and how they were responding to the environment. Interestingly, new users are not able to keep their eyes focused on one pinpoint location because their eyes have not yet been trained to do so. Experienced users will be able to keep their gaze steadier and more direct. After hearing this from Heckendorn, I tried to steady my gaze in one exact spot and found that my eyes could not settle down, but instead jumbled and jumped all around the spot I focused on.
We also visited CyberDream, who let us know about their upcoming Virtual Battlegrounds VR game that will host a 32- vs. 32-player interactive, simulated battle in November.
The Future of Tech
After the technology fair, we went to the theater room for the opening ceremony and keynote presentations. Wes Naylor, CEO and founder of Fifty Pound Brains, delivered the welcoming address, stressing the need for government and academia to come together to get technology right. VR, says Naylor, tells stories, and this technology can be used to make knowledge more efficient. It is the core of great creation and can be used to educate people for a greater world.
Dan Ayoub, general manager of Microsoft Education, followed on this idea with his keynote presentation. Ayoub discussed his journey into the education realm with his technology background, reflecting that modern education hasn’t advanced that much, and there is a dissociation between the skills needed in the future and how we are preparing the future workforce.
“Education is empowering,” says Ayoub. “How do we help teachers drive students in the right direction?”
We can do this with job disruption, by staying on top of new technologies and learning from them. We are not 2D creatures after all, we are 3D, so using technology for active learning is more natural for us than traditional passive learning, says Ayoub.
Mixed Reality (MR) has a direct, positive impact on students, he said. Improved learning outcomes include increased academic achievement scores, retention, abstract and spatial reasoning. Technology also encourages self-directed learning and creates a learning environment for active participants. It can also be used as a vehicle to teach empathy by walking a student through another’s experience. MR uses include remote assistance, training and task guidance, collaborative learning, and contextual data access.
Ayoub shared studies demonstrating the effectiveness of technology in education. In a study by West Coast University, medical students used Augmented Reality (AR) to study anatomy and showed a full letter grade improvement, with a 25-30% increase in grades. Students also had a 35-45% increase in their retention of the material. In a recent case study of students preparing for a cadaver test, those using AR showed identical grades to those who used classical studying, but the AR students achieved these same results with 60% less preparation time.
This means that using technology in medical schools could help students prepare for their residency at an earlier time since they can learn more efficiently in a shorter time frame.
Alan Smithson, CEO of MetaVRse, led the second keynote presentation, elaborating on technology and its increasing use in the next few years. In a market report he shared, it is estimated that the annual growth rate in the AR/VR industry will be 133% in the next five years and the value of the industry will reach $108 billion by 2020 and $1.3 trillion by 2025.
Smithson also shared an Accenture Research analysis of national workforce data, which predicted the percentage of work time that could be augmented though Extended Reality (XR) by industry, with a 21% average overall. Health and social services have a potential for 35% of work time to be augmented, with construction at 30%, education at 23%, and the public sector at 21%.
Aside from future predictions, Smithson shared innovations that are happening in the industry right now that show the effectiveness of XR in training. Walmart, after using VR to deliver Black Friday retail training to its employees, had 15% higher scores and a 900% faster training time. UPS used XR driver training on 4,000 employees and decreased training time by two-thirds. Delta Air Lines implemented VR maintenance training at one-tenth the cost.
Both keynotes elicited several eerie questions from the audience on the future of technology and what this means for the workforce with respect to job security. Smithson predicts that while several positions could be replaced with new technologies such as artificial intelligence, new jobs will emerge to support that change. Ayoub, in his presentation the next day at the Florida Simulation Summit, shared a positive outlook on how technology and humans can work together while responding to his Q&A session. There is currently a 3% chance for misdiagnosis with human operators, explained Ayoub. Using artificial intelligence, there is a 5% chance for misdiagnosis – much larger. But by using these two entities together, the percentage could be lowered significantly, to only 1%.
Florida Simulation Summit
The Florida Simulation Summit, which took place the following day, Thursday, September 26th, was hosted by Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings and the National Center for Simulation.
At the start of the summit, we were greeted by a video of a familiar and all-too-relevant cartoon — The Jetsons. Mayor Demings explained his choice for showing us this clip: it presents technology, innovation, and ultimately where we can be. Watching technology advance as it has over the years with innovations like videotelephony, explained Mayor Demings, is like watching The Jetsons itself.
Industry thought leaders shared their innovations in the field in both a technology panel, moderated by SIMETRI Inc. President and CEO Angela M. Alban, and in an application panel, moderated by UCF Institute for Simulation and Training Director of METIL.org David Metcalf, PhD.
Thought leaders in the technology panel included Marlo Brooke, CEO and founder, AVATAR Partners; Doug Traill, director, Solution Architecture and Technology, NVIDIA; and Christopher Chambers, founder and CEO, Serious Simulations LLC. The application panel included Dr. William Little, lead augmented/virtual reality lab, Kennedy Space Center; Haifa Maamar, education director of emerging technologies, Full Sail University; and Pamela Boyers, PhD, Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical Simulation (IEXCEL), Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Live Simulated Scenario
After the presentations, the summit ended with a live scenario, which showed how modeling, simulation & training could be used in the medical industry. The simulation was so believable, the audience had to be warned ahead of time not to call 911, as it was only a planned simulation. It took place among one of the tables where attendees sat and incorporated CAE’s trauma patient simulator, CAE Caesar. The entire scenario was filmed and broadcasted on screen for everyone to experience the demonstration firsthand. The summary of the scenario is below:
At one of the tables where attendees sat, a man communicated to his neighbor that he did not feel like himself. Within moments, he collapsed onto the floor and was unresponsive. Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) appeared on the scene with a gurney and equipment, ready to assess the situation. The EMTs checked the man’s vital signs and symptoms and asked what information was known about him. His neighbor, who had just met him that day at the summit, was not able to share much helpful information for the EMTs. However, he was able to call the man’s wife and briefly explain the situation as well as find out about any specific conditions the man had.
After their assessment, the EMTs were then able to confirm that the man had experienced a myocardial infarction. The EMTs hoisted the “man”, now replaced with CAE Caesar, onto the gurney and began each step in their protocol until he could be safely stabilized and transported. When the EMTs were ready, they transported the man out of the room and the scenario ended with applause.
This was the first time the live scenario was used at the summit, and it seemed to be quite effective. The importance of simulation for training, and the impact it can have on participants, was clearly witnessed in the crowd, who sat silent and engaged as the scenario unfolded before them.
Not only was this an interesting way to conclude the summit, it really brought home the value of technology and what it can do for the world. As Mayor Demings alluded to in beginning of the summit, technology and innovation can ultimately take the world where it needs to be.