Press Release: UK Company wins U.S. Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge
Birmingham, UK — UK Virtual Worlds solution provider Daden Limited has won first place and second place prize respectively in two categories of this years inaugural U.S. Federal Government’s Virtual World Challenge (FVWC). Birmingham-based Daden entered both its PIVOTE and Datascape systems into the challenge. The PIVOTE system was announced winner in the skills building category and Daden’s Datascape was runner up in collaboration category.
The Federal Virtual World Challenge (http://fvwc.army.mil) was launched in August 2009 by the U.S. Army Simulation & Training Technology Center, in order to reach a global development community to provide innovative and interactive training and analysis solutions in virtual worlds. The challenge is intended to explore the possibilities for using virtual worlds that may have not ever been considered by the U.S. Government. The audience includes all United States Government Departments and Agencies, including Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Entries were logically divided into four categories – Collaboration, Skill Building, Instruction and Visualisation and there had been both official judging by Federal staff and an open evaluation by members of the public.
Daden’s Managing Director was invited to Florida for the Defense Gametech conference and of course to hear the results. “When it was announced that we were finalists we were really pleased – especially as we were the only UK company to have the accolade of being double finalists. However to actually win one of the categories and be runners up in another is a testament to our innovation, hard work and pushing the boundaries of virtual world technologies.”
Tami Griffith, creator of the challenge, adds: “Daden’s submissions exemplify what we were hoping to see in the challenge. Datascape’s demonstration of streaming real-time data will be very useful for the analysis community while PIVOTE goes a long way in demonstrating interactive capabilities that could be used by first-responders. We are delighted that they were in our winners circle and we expect to see a great relationship form between the U.S. Government and Daden.”
Daden’s winning entry, built around Second Life, is PIVOTE. This is a training system for virtual worlds – which allows training exercises to be developed independent of the virtual world – and be playable not only in a variety of virtual worlds but also on the web and even on mobile phones. PIVOTE was developed as a result of Daden’s work on the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) project called PREVIEW with St George’s Hospital, University of London. This project, which created a training system for paramedics at the Hospital won the Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding ICT (Information & Communications Technology) Initiative in 2009. PIVOTE has been released as an open-source application and there are now users from Argentina to Canada, and across many European countries. Whilst initially developed for medical training PIVOTE has since been used for topics as varied as retail customer service and youth citizenship.
For the Challenge Daden put together a simulation of a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan. First the user has to navigate a remotely controlled robot through the debris to a secondary IED and disarm that. Then with the road clear the user – now playing the role of a medic – can walk down to the wrecked vehicle to treat the casualty.
David explained: “The great advantage of PIVOTE is that it moves the core definition of the exercise out of the virtual world. This means that the same exercise can be experienced (at different levels of graphical detail) by users in different virtual worlds, or even those just with web or mobile phone access. This not only maximises access but also protects the institution’s investment in the training, and allows tutors without detailed virtual world knowledge to maintain and even create the exercises. “My greatest hope is that this second win for a PIVOTE based system will encourage organizations around the world to download the open-source software and discover its versatility for themselves.”
Daden’s Datascape data visualisation environment were runners up in the collaboration category. Built on the Second Life virtual world platform the centre-piece of Datascape is a 20-meter diameter virtual map showing Google Maps (or its OpenStreetMap open-source equivalent). Just as on the Web, this map can be zoomed down to building level detail almost anywhere on the planet. But unlike the web version, up to 50 users from across the globe can gather round or stand on the map and discuss what it is showing. Daden’s web integration technology then allows data from a variety of web and real-world sources to be plotted on the map – ranging from BBC news feeds and US Geological Survey (USGS) earth-tremor data to GPS data and the real-time location of aircraft flying over Los Angeles Airport. Additional screens around the floor-map allow for video feeds, RSS and Twitter feeds, infographics, slideshows and even collaboratively edited documents and spreadsheets.
David Burden, Daden MD said: “We initially created Datascape for the Federal Virtual World Consortium event in Washington DC last year. It brought together a variety of data visualisation techniques – and the impact of seeing them all in one place has been really powerful in showing how virtual worlds can be used as a data visualisation and data fusion environment. For instance following the Haiti earthquake we created a set of controls which allowed you to plot not only news stories about the earthquake and after-shock data from the USGS, but also to overlay photos and tweets being geo-tagged from users directly on the scene.”
Daden’s FVWC entries both have their own web pages at http://fvwc-pivote.blogspot.com/ and http://fvwc-datascape.blogspot.com/, and both are available for public view in Second Life at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Daden%20Cays/126/217/22 and http://slurl.com/secondlife/Daden%20Prime/223/224/21.