An application for trainers to rapidly create and control HAZMAT emergency response scenarios in online immersive virtual environments for self-paced and team learning.

Period of Performance: 05/11/2015 - 04/30/2016


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Deepsemaphore, LLC
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Interactive online multiuser virtual learning environments (MUVLEs) have been shown to be highly effective for the delivery of health and safety training for workers. The return on investment for MUVLEs increases significantly if the latter can be changed easily and inexpensively to match rapidly evolving learning needs. Under Phase I a minimal viable application was successfully developed illustrating our approach for Hazmat and Hazwoper training scenarios. In Phase II we aim to adapt our application for use in 360 immersive virtual environments, advance interactivity of scenario assets of the library in the learning-by-doing space, control and visualization functionalities of the application, validate subject matter content and conduct rigorous assessment of our product through qualitative and quantitative evaluations. Our goal is to provide Hazmat and emergency preparedness trainers with an application that will allow them to rapidly create and modify MUVLEs to match the training scenarios they need for their classes without the necessity to have recourse to a dedicated team of designers and programmers or additional extensive training in domains not relevant to their core professional skills. Subject matter experts need to address changes that are needed to be made in real time to a virtual learning environment in order to adapt to (1) current student skill set, (2) to immediate teaching goals, (3) to various class sizes, (4) to the current student performance evaluation requirements and (5) to the frequent and often, unanticipated, shifts in focus from theory to practice and back, and last but not least (5) to frequent changes in course contents. MUVLEs that resist adaptation tends to limit the creative opportunities for teachers or subject matter experts who need to challenge their students with advanced, unanticipated, engaging and responsive scenarios in the virtual learning environment. Many virtual reality training applications are designed to teach skills that can be encapsulated by well-defined decision trees. Such training experiences while being much needed, and easily repeatable, and useful for practicing skills, tend to be linear and may limit the range of creative solutions that students may come up with to solve a given problem. Our proposed grant application will allow subject matter experts to create and modify MUVLEs in real-time while an exercise is in progress, to create custom training scenarios, and to monitor trainee activities through a common user interface accessible within the virtual learning environment. While our application can be used for staging self-paced, single user virtual training experiences, its strength lies in its ability to support large scale virtual team training exercises. We use the expertise of Hazmat Emergency Response training experts to validate the educational quality of our product. We will segment our extensive library of virtual 3D content into subject specific content packs that will be sold separately and available in a format that can be imported directly into the content generation and management application. Our potential target clients include Hazmat and safety training centers and businesses that require access to custom MUVLEs to support their training.