HTX Labs LLC recently received a SBIR Phase II award associated with their Phase I work with the U.S. Air Force. The funding provided in this Phase II award will be used to accelerate the development of the HTX EMPACT Virtual Reality (VR) platform, which the Air Force plans to leverage as a way to fast-track the creation and utilization of highly immersive VR simulations within their education and training programs.
The planned adaptation to EMPACT will allow military personnel, experts and trainers to rapidly create immersive training content and then systematically and objectively quantify the efficacy of VR-enabled training simulations – a technology that will allow benchmarking and time-lapse views of the student’s progress and physical mastery of a prescribed set of protocols and procedures. This is a significant milestone in the corporate learning and professional development industry because many training programs aren’t designed to directly analyze a student’s physical performance against a highly experienced professional or an entire student population. As a way of illustrating, the EMPACT platform will be able to measure multiple dimensions such as hand movement, reaction time, eye movement, user interactions, and more, and then score the participant’s performance against the exemplar and compare it to the performance of others.
In addition, the SBIR Phase II award will support the development of multi- modal VR learning that will include: a 1st-person view where the student can ‘embody the expert’ to practice through mimicking within VR, and a 3rd-person view where they are strictly observing the expert within an immersive environment. The final modality offered will enable a trained participant to fully embody the expert, without guidance, to perform the procedure and be measured against the expert for competence and aptitude. HTX Labs also plans to incorporate a scoring rubric and an embedded 3D data visualization component that will allow the Air Force leadership to analyze robust datasets within the actual immersive environment.
“This is one of the many advantages of utilizing virtual reality for training, and will be the catalyst to an infinite number of possibilities for measuring the effectiveness of corporate learning and development programs,” commented Chris Verret, CTO of HTX Labs.
AFRL and AFWERX have partnered to streamline the Small Business Innovation Research process in an attempt to speed up the experience, broaden the pool of potential applicants, and decrease bureaucratic overhead. Beginning in SBIR 18.2, and now in 19.1, the Air Force has begun offering ‘special’ SBIR topics that are faster, leaner, and open to a broader range of innovations.