HTX Labs, developer of the EMPACT Immersive Learning Platform, has been awarded a new $1.25M Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contract with US Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) to enhance EMPACT to facilitate collaborative, multi-role immersive learning capabilities in support of maintenance training for the B-52 aircraft.
HTX will leverage the contract to bring EMPACT’s secure, cloud-based immersive content development, management, and distribution platform to AFGSC, delivering highly realistic immersive environments and interactive virtual training content that enable Airmen to train anytime, anywhere, on any device. As part of this contract, HTX will enhance EMPACT to support multi-user capability to ensure that Airmen can train with “anyone”. This will enable synchronous, multi-role immersive training that allows multiple users (students and/or instructors) to join the same immersive learning environment to communicate, train, and learn together in real-time, supporting collaborative training across geographically disparate locations.
The mission impact to AFGSC will be to address the lack of physical aircraft and supporting equipment that is available for training purposes, improve crew chief effectiveness and preparedness, shorten the training pipeline overall (from BMT graduation to qualified B-52 Crew Chief), reduce training manpower requirements, serve as an enabler to Bomber Task Force/Multi-Capable Airmen (MCA) initiatives, and reduce required storage space to accommodate physical training devices by providing alternative virtual training capabilities.
“We understand that maintenance training and operations is a “team sport”, and these new capabilities will allow Airmen to safely train and practice together within immersive, multi-role scenarios for the B-52 aircraft, such as towing, engine run, and safe for maintenance,” remarked Chris Verret, President & Co-Founder, HTX Labs. “When coupled with EMPACT’s no-code immersive content authoring tools, this capability will support just-in-time mission training, enabling delivery of the right training at the right time – across geographically disparate locations to the Airmen who need it.”
The results of this project will drive training engagement and retention of Airmen who may consider leaving the USAF for private sector opportunities, encourage teamwork through technology that enables Airmen to train collaboratively, and allow instructors to synchronously reach more students across remote geographically distributed locations. The ultimate outcome of this effort will be to increase throughput of the training pipeline, lower overall training costs, and produce more fully mission-ready Airmen.
“Our main objective with this SBIR award is to build on the success of the immersive training programs we have helped drive within AETC and bring those successful results along with lessons learned over to Global Strike,” said Verret. “Our team is also extremely excited to expand EMPACT capabilities to support collaborative multi-user training, which is a feature that has broad applicability across the USAF as well as the private sector.”