Virtual Simulation Tools for Cultural Familiarization

Award Information
Department of Defense
Award Year:
Phase II
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Gwynedd Office Park, 716 N. Bethlehem Pike, Ste 30, Lower Gwynedd, PA, 19002
Hubzone Owned:
Minority Owned:
Woman Owned:
Principal Investigator:
John Deaton
Principal Investigator
(407) 277-9288
Business Contact:
Phil Rollhauser
Mgr, Contracts
(215) 542-1400
Research Institution:
The Virtual Environment Cultural Training for Operational Readiness (VECTOR) Phase II effort focuses on constructing a training infrastructure that supports representation of culture-related behavior and speech-based dialog, that can be integrated withexisting virtual environments, and that is readily adaptable for practical training applications. This training will directly support asymmetric warfare requirements in that all personnel assigned to a particular region/country/operation will be moreadequately prepared to deal with decisions linked to an unfamiliar social context. The training environment for the VECTOR effort is that of a peacekeeping operation involving Kurdish peoples in northern Iraq. A primary objective of this effort will bethe design and implementation in software of a representation of cultural information and behaviors that permits dialog between trainees and synthetic actors in a virtual environment. An important determinant of the success of these synthetic actors isthe construction of a framework to represent significant aspects of their cultural background and affective processes, and to model the behavioral consequences of these in the context of scenario-specific goals and interactions with live trainees.Finally, a functional software prototype of the VECTOR concept working in a virtual environment with synthetic actors and speech interaction will be demonstrated. VECTOR will provide cultural familiarization through immersion, which will result in morerapid and effective training. Such a training capability has extraordinary potential for improving the outcomes of non-conventional military engagements. Apart from use across the range of U.S. Armed Forces, such training is also applicable to foreignmilitary organizations for preparation in joint operations. The technologies could be adapted for use by the State Department, and has widespread utility for multinational corporations with far-flung operations and a requirement to maintain goodcommunications. At a reduced scale (i.e., in a desktop configuration, or distributed via the Web), such training systems are also useful to foreign-language students and travelers. The techniques for rendering of cultural characteristics of syntheticactors in virtual simulations are also directly applicable for representation of other kinds of other performance moderating factors such as stress, fatigue, and various types of individual differences; this general capability is expected to have broadcommercial value. The underlying technologies for simulating and portraying human affect and behavior have significant spin-off potential to the entertainment industry (for games and movies). Finally, these technologies could also be used to constructinteractive customer service and help systems for the Web and telephone.The progression described above also forms the core of an effective commercialization strategy. With a Phase I demonstration in hand, and having initiated Phase II development, we will be in a position to market VECTOR in an expanding circle ofgovernment, then commercial sectors. The spin-offs to mass-market education and entertainment sectors represent significant potential sales.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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