The Delta3D game engine was developed as an ‘open source’ tool by the US Naval Postgraduate School in conjunction with Marine Corps, Army, and vendors such as Alion. Image credit: Alion.
leaders not to expect hard data for a while on the return on investment from multi-player online worlds. “We’re just starting to figure out” the training value of games involving a squad, or maybe as many as 30 players, “but virtual worlds are a whole ‘nother leap. With a thousand guys participating, who completed the task? Who failed?” Jeffrey McCrindle of Education Management Solutions advises against the perception of virtual worlds as the end-all of training. “Serious games still lack the fidelity to accomplish some learning tasks and do not provide the ‘muscle memory’ benefits of a live exercise.” Industry, he concludes, “should work to integrate serious games and simulation centers into a full suite of integrated, standards-based learning applications.”
AI and Beyond CAE’s Pogue thinks that in the future avatars may require less programming and keyboard manipulation, instead incorporating an artificial intelligence that triggers gestures and body language based on voice tone and language context. In effect, your avatar will “learn your personality.” “The application should be smart enough to know who you are and your skill level. It needs to be a dynamic virtual human, not a stupid plastic avatar,” opines Heneghan. “We certainly think the way people interact with software is changing … beyond the keyboard and mouse,” he added, citing the Nintendo Wii, Playstation six-axis controller, and iPhone touch-screen accelerometer as examples. Roger Smith muses that “there may be other alternatives to loading information into the human mind,” such as direct neural stimulation (the type of technology that enables a blind person’s mind to ‘see’) or even chemical stimulation of the brain “in a way that creates useful communication or understanding of data.” Whether or not we reach the electroshock or drug injection stage, the Army scientist forecasts a massive shift in the way we view and share data: “We remain on the top of an iceberg of unexplored potential in this field. Beneath the waterline lie hundreds of valuable applications that go beyond training and that can apply VE technologies to real military operations from logistics, to command and control, to situation understanding, to information fusion.” ms&t 14
MS&T MAGAZINE • ISSUE 2/2009