WASHINGTON, DC–How are government agencies currently using augmented and virtual reality to do their jobs and what are some possible areas we could see those technologies expand into?
Those are two questions a panel of VR makers, journalists and industry insiders will answer in a session titled, “Getting Real: How Augmented & Virtual Reality Expand Your Reach,” produced by the Producers Guild of America and taking place at the Government Video Expo on Thursday, Dec. 8th at 10:15.
Government Video reached out to PGA’s VR expert, Brian Savoie, for a sneak peek into what themes attendees could expect to take away.
Government Video: Can you describe some past and present uses of both virtual and augmented reality in the government space?
Brian Savoie: The government has been using VR for some time for military applications. The utilization of this technology for military applications is well documented. A great deal of the work in the government area has been focused on education and training. These incumbent efforts were largely custom built solutions to meet the needs of a specific client. However, with the advent of the new consumer off the shelf (COTS) systems, agencies with smaller budgets are beginning to play in this space. The military is certainly interested in the COTS systems as well. I recently viewed a solution developed for the US postal service that allows a user to train on sorting mail. The developer built out the mail sorting facility and all of the mail sorting systems and the trainee interacts with them in much the same way they would in real life. This implementation utilized the HTC Vive as an end user interface.
GV: Two part question–what are some potential government related uses of virtual reality? And what are some potential government related uses of augmented reality?
BS: This question presumes that there is a qualitative difference between the two mediums – and while there may be, it is less relevant for the question of application of this technology. AR, VR, merged reality and wearables serve as interrelated and complementary technology and services that change the way a user interacts with an environment. Ultimately, AR and merged reality place you in a ‘real’ environment.
Education and training is a clear early win for government applications in AR and VR. However, the applications are potentially endless. Augmented reality is being used in manufacturing to support an individual’s task performance. VR is being used to allow scientists to enter into the 3D models they have created to gain a greater understanding of our world.
GV: What are the technical, creative and/or business challenges that need to be overcome for either Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality to be more widely used?
BS: I think some of these hurdles are in the process of being breached. The ability to build virtual environments and deploy those on COTS platforms levels the playing field. The government applications truly are different from the entertainment applications. On the entertainment side, the creative professionals need to and are developing a new language of interactive storytelling where the user is no longer a passive viewer, but more along the line of a visitor. Government creative and software professionals with a background in 3D modeling and development using the unity engine could get started today.
“Getting Real: How Augmented & Virtual Reality Expand Your Reach” takes place in the Government Video Theater on Thursday, Dec. 8th. For more information about the Government Video Expo, including its full schedule of educational sessions and events, click here.