Systems, the market and innovation leader in private
virtual worlds, has announced that the National
Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a contract to the
company to study the use of commercial gaming
technologies to produce a distributed, multi-player, online
virtual environment for training individuals and teams
in critical HAZMAT skills. Under the NIH contract, a
hazardous material (HAZMAT) emergency response
scenario will be designed using gaming technology to
test the basic principles of the study and to gather
qualitative and quantitative data to measure the efficacy
of the technology.

Forterra has proposed a solution to NIH that leverages
developments in the commercial gaming industry and
adapts these rapidly growing technologies to produce an
online virtual simulation in which individuals and teams collaborate to increase their readiness to deal with
HAZMAT emergencies. The NIH-sponsored study will include a training task analysis to determine a
proper instructional system design. User tests will be conducted with target audiences and the results will
be analyzed to determine, among other outcomes, what the impact is on cost effectiveness and
distance learning.

“The current obstacles to effective training are often geographic or cost driven, but there are also learning
and retention limitations associated with traditional training that involve video and slide presentations as
the mediums for this training. This experience is devoid of realism and engagement for participants,” said
David Rolston, Forterra’s chief executive officer. “As part of this NIH contract, we will develop a
distributed learning and instructional environment that will put users in an engaging and realistic virtual
world where they are able to collaborate with other people rather than be inundated with boring web
pages and endless PowerPoint slides. A rich, interactive environment based on game technology offers
the most effective, cost-efficient way to facilitate the rapid transfer of learning and the development and
sustainment of necessary skills.”

On-line immersive training experience

In addition, the focus of the NIH study recognizes that new training technologies are needed that allow
remote access to large audiences and highly qualified trainers. As a result, Forterra will integrate the
subject matter expertise of Rohde & Associates and the instructional system design expertise of the
Federation of American Scientists to create a compelling on-line immersive training experience in which
to practice the interactions of HAZMAT first responders, incident commanders and site workers.

“We are excited to be involved with this important study sponsored by NIH,” said Dr Henry Kelly,
president of the Federation of American Scientists. “People acquire new knowledge and complex skills
from game play and we as an organization are working on strategies that harness the potential of
emerging technologies to improve how people teach and learn. Gaming technology, like the virtual world
developed by Forterra, provides a tool that can be leveraged by instructors and subject matter experts to
provide a rich environment for the rapid transfer of learning.”

Forterra’s On-Line Interactive Virtual Environment (OLIVE™) software platform enables end-users and
partners to rapidly generate realistic, collaborative, 3D Internet solutions. Applications developed using
OLIVE allow users to sit at their PCs with a network connection, log on and appear in an interactive,
virtual environment represented as a fully animated avatar (3D character controlled by the user). Through
a choice of simple keyboard, mouse or game controller interface, users are able to navigate through
realistic environments, access and deploy equipment, drive/fly vehicles, don personal protective
equipment and communicate with one another. As a scenario is executed, the results are captured by a
built-in session replay system that supports debrief so users can learn from the simulation exercise.

“This virtual gaming technology from Forterra will bring the classroom to the HAZMAT student, reaching
them at locations that are currently unreachable through contemporary delivery systems, enhancing the
experience through interactive discussion and virtual task accomplishment,” said Mike Rohde, principal of
Rohde & Associates. “The OLIVE platform possesses the ability to construct an entirely new paradigm
and regime for hazardous material training. Ultimately, the system has the potential to become a central
point for the accumulation and archiving of instructional materials and case histories, becoming a virtual
nation-wide lessons-learned center for the ‘all hazards’ and emergency response industry.”