This 3 December, Marty Kauchak, Halldale Group Editor, spoke with Robert Dough, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Creative Technologist, at Brightline Interactive. The discussion included the company’s S&T offerings in different high-risk sectors, technology trends and customer requirements. Highlights of their meeting follow.
Brightline Interactive provides interactive experiences and simulations (VR/AR/AI) for both government and commercial sectors – a portfolio that resonates well with Halldale’s editorial diverse programs. The company’s portfolio has evolved and has come a long way since the early 2000s. From its initial, main competency of providing strategic communications products and other solutions to the US Army, the firm’s business has grown to include disparate customers beyond that service – FEMA (US Federal Emergency Management Agency) and government organizations, and commercial clients including AT&T, Coca-Cola, Disney and others.
Beyond its first VR product in 2014
A significant waypoint on Brightline’s path to today occurred in 2013, “when we switched over to Unity development and in 2014 did our first VR driving simulation for Toyota,” Dough recalled and added, “since then we’ve done everything from UFC [Ultimate Fighting Championship] fight simulations to FEMA’s flood preparation in VR, all the way up to law enforcement and other enterprise training.”
Looking beyond technology, the industry subject matter expert emphasized that at this vIITSEC, Brightline was emphasizing its expanding roster of partners. Dough pointed out the industry is “at an interesting moment, where we have this huge influx of VR and AR capabilities being fully tangible – the hardware is there. You look at what Varjo announced several days ago, they are on their third generation of hardware – we’re not on first generation any more. There are other companies on their second, third and even fourth generation of materiel. Outside of head mounted displays, look at other enhancing technologies – haptic feedback, olfactory, motion capture gloves, volumetric capture – all of these technologies are developed and here.” A short list of Brightline’s partners featured at the conference include Teslasuit, Neurable, Unity, OVR, Avatar dimension, Unreal and Eight360.
Given Brightline’s S&T reach into different sectors, Dough was asked to discuss some of the emerging, common requirements among their diverse end users. Speaking in generalities, and not by specific corporate product brands, he emphasized that in one case, what is becoming really important, is creating training that allows for the instructor to build the scenario. “We’re not creating individual situations where that trainee is now locked into that scenario for the duration of training. But to develop a platform and system that allows the instructor to build a scene. For law enforcement, that might be adding a suspect and a witness, and barriers such as cars. They are seeking to create this singular training platform that allows for limitless amounts of scenarios to occur – giving power to the instructor as they go.”
Real Time Adaptive Training
Brightline is another S&T company expanding its use and reliance on Big Data. The company is doing so primarily with its Performance Adaptive Virtual Engine (PAVE), which permits the enterprise to take the trainee’s performance data and run it through the engine to adapt the environment in real time. Dough further elaborated on the business case for embracing PAVE, pointing out, “Our ability to assess and adapt the trainees’ environment enables us to help the trainee go from ‘Sensation to Action’ at a much quicker pace allowing us to create an expedited training pipeline and more efficient warfighters.” But the first part of that is assessment of training, Dough noted, and added it is one of the “key elements to efficacy of training in the first place.” If training is not modified in real time through PAVE, it can be completed instantaneously through the scene- or scenario builder following the after-action report. PAVE additionally has a built-in AI function to better support assessment.
Dough was further asked about some of the barriers to more fully introducing its learning technology into diverse sectors. He responded, that if this discussion occurred one year earlier, the answer would have been: to convince prospective customers and others that VR “is real, something to access and utilize.” Now, “we’ve have had the pandemic pushing people toward virtual thought processing. People are more adapt to have the conversation about taking things virtual. They understand the need of it.” Beyond this entry level issue, Dough reports another challenge is network integration, specifically the inability of industry to typically use Zoom with its government customers. “We have to use Microsoft Teams,” the Brightline executive said, but noted he is observing communications, with and among, government offices are evolving, to where those stakeholders are trying to expand their connectivity within security and other requirements. But more to the point, the sector expert called attention to Brightline being able to bring strategic network data mesh capabilities to installations and innovate immersive technologies that operate off of low latency, high speed and reliable networks. “The integration of dedicated networks establishes the basis for hosting modernized training and support, large-scale environment visualization, high-quality live data feeds, secure communications, and more.”
“2021 is Going to be a Big Year”
In terms of near-term business development opportunities in diverse training enterprises, Dough said his company is having discussions with prospective customers beyond the government, in healthcare, in fuel and gas, and others – not only creating opportunities, but expanding upon them. “A lot of what we’ve done in the past we are now expanding on. People are realizing the importance of it more and more.” Indeed, Dough further declared, “2021 is going to be a big year for content, for content creators to come in and create those experiences. So, we’ll have the track record of cross-industry performance in 2022 and beyond, to expand on what we’re talking about now.”