U.S. Army announces virtual worlds challenge finalists

[From www.army.mil (“The Official Homepage of the United States Army”); more information about the finalists is available here]

Image: VADER Island, a virtual world where developers submitted entries to the competition

Army announces virtual worlds challenge finalists

Mar 9, 2010
By Michelle Milliner

ORLANDO, Fla. – This week, the U.S. Army announced finalists in a competition designed to uncover new potentials in virtual worlds. The Research, Development and Engineering Command’s simulation and training center launched the Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge in August 2009 to reach a global development community and explore innovative, interactive training and analysis solutions in virtual worlds.

The contest uncovered new possibilities for using virtual worlds that may have not been considered. The U.S. Army Simulation and Training Technology Center in Orlando oversaw the competition. Evaluators included judges from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Department of Transportation and Health and Human Services.

The Army is inviting the public to participate through a public review process available on the web site, which will remain open through the coming months.

Submissions came from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada and made use of a variety of virtual worlds: such as Second Life, Active Worlds, Teleplace and 3DInternet. The contest divided entries into four categories: Collaboration, Skill Building, Instruction and Visualization.

“It was clear that there were groups of developers who were pushing the envelope of training and analysis capabilities within virtual worlds,” said Tami Griffith, challenge creator. “Our hope was that the Federal Virtual World Challenge would expose those pockets of excellence and provide an opportunity to build relationships between these innovators and the Federal Government.”

Griffith said she is pleased with the quality of the entries submitted. “We believe each of the finalists have demonstrated great innovation in the use of this emerging platform.”

Finalists in each category from both the government and government contractor and the non-government categories are invited to demonstrate their entries and attend the award ceremony taking place on the final day of the Defense Users’ GameTech Conference in Orlando March 29-31.

Non-government winners will receive travel accommodations to the conference. Army officials said this group is also eligible to receive a monetary award in the amounts of $1,000, $500 or $250 for first through third place.

The Simulation and Training Technology Center director will have the option of awarding a $25,000 grand prize if a submission provides a significant advancement and would likely lead to additional future government investment. However, the real value to the finalists may be the recognition gained for their innovations and the potential of follow-on work with the government.

The Army is also inviting finalists to provide presentations at the Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds event in Washington, D.C., May 13-14.

The non-government category finalists, in alphabetical order of entry are:

Building 3D Models in Second Life – Dr. Cynthia Calongne
Breakdown – Jeremiah Isbell
DataScape – David Burden
Hyper-Reality – Kevin Simkins
Imagine – Kevin Simkins
Immersive Learning Environment – Donelle Bunch-Sydow
PIVOTE – David Burden
Tactical Situation Visualization – James Stibbards
Tredpro Fusion Fire System – Aaron Buley
Virtual Training Partners – Mark Jankowski

The government and government contractor category finalists, in alphabetical order of entry are:

Army Family Support Center – Jaque Davison
Chicken Chase – Dana Moore
iSched – Virtual World Training Scheduler – Alexandre Gosselin
I-Room – Austin Tate
Mars Expedition Strategy Challenge – Mike McCrocklin/Andrew Stricker/Dr. Cynthia Calongne
Play2Train – Ramashsharma Ramloll
VetAdvisor Virtual Room – Dan Frank
Virtual Border Crossing Simulation – Ken Hudson

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