17 March 2020

Virtual Avebury: exploring sense of place in a virtual archaeology simulation - now In Press

The academic paper on our Virtual Avebury project with the National Trust and Bournemouth University is now "in press" at the Virtual Archaeology Review.

You can read the PDF at Virtual Avebury: exploring sense of place in a virtual archaeology simulation

8 November 2019

Virtual Reality Wargaming

A good day yesterday at Coventry's Manufacturing Technology Centre where Dstl were holding a show-and-tell on Defence Wargaming. We were luck enough to get a demo and a talking slot.

For the occasion David updated the Virtual Wargames Room (our 3D Virtual Tabletop - 3D VTT) we built in Trainingscapes a year or so ago. The new version was optimised for the Oculus Quest (which meant the hex board and model soldiers had to go).

Within the space we have:

  • Three big floor maps for wargames, BAOR 1984 (an old SP game), Waterloo and the Modern War's Crisis in the Baltic. These have a real sense of scale, the BAOR map in particular looks like it's filling a whole sports hall and you just want to walk all over it!
  • Example counters (done as cubes for ease of handling) for each game
  • A more conventional "wargames table", in this case with a hex grid and some example troop blocks and terrain features, and even an example simple 3D sculpt tank and figure (think Airfix 1/32nd!)
  • A dice for random number generation
  • Some static information panels (one on Soviet tactics, the other a ruleset aide-memoire)
  • A couple of dynamic information panels/web browsers to bring in rule or period related data or even live Google Docs so you can log (or read) activity and someone on the web can read/update it.

One of the whole aims was to keep it very simple. Nothing is automated, it works just the same way as though you got a physical wargame out on a real table (and we even had people knocking things off the table as in real life, and picking them up to keep the place tidy afterwards).

A visitor moving virtual pieces on a virtual wargames table!
That simplicity really worked and we got a great response to the whole concept. We also got some great feedback to our lightening talk, linked both to current projects we have with MOD and some of the peripheral (e.g. the BattlefieldAR system we are working up with Battlefields Trust) and hobby projects we are working on.

The whole day gave a good insight into some of the companies working in the professional wargaming space (or with aspirations to work there), running the whole gamut from machine-learning AI based systems to good old paper and card wargames and PIP dice for unit activation. There was also a good presentation on the current MOD needs in this area, so hopefully we'll get the chance to progress some of the ideas we presented a bit further.

25 October 2019

Daden's MOD DASA VLC Project featured on Gov.UK News Page

Nice to see our Virtual Life Coach project featured alongside the other Phase 2 funded Defence People projects in a piece from MOD on the Gov.uk web site.

Nearly £1m is being invested to further develop and trial cutting-edge artificial intelligence, psychological, and neuroscience tools and technology such as brain scanners in a bid to boost the training, wellbeing, and mental health support offered to personnel.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Johnny Mercer said:

"We welcome this £1m investment from DASA aimed at improving the welfare of Armed Forces personnel."
"Our Armed Forces serve this country to an exceptional standard and help to keep us safe, so it’s only right that they receive the best possible training and support."

Chief of Defence People Lieutenant General Richard Nugee said:

"Defence innovation is about more than just the kit our Armed Forces use. It’s also about our men and women who serve our country."
"This £1m investment will see seven projects developed from improving training methods to boosting the pastoral care and mental health support we offer our people."

The funding is part of the second phase of DASA’s Defence People Innovation Challenge funded by the Defence Innovation Fund which is managed by the MOD’s Defence Innovation Unit; and sponsored by MOD’s Chief of Defence People.

Daden Ltd has been awarded around £150,000 to pilot a virtual life coach which can help with day-to-day personal, employment, and career issues with an aim to maintain motivation and supporting retention. The system will also track satisfaction, stress and help personnel set long-term personal and career goals. The system will be trialled at RAF Fylingdales.

Dr Adam Staines, DASA Competition lead, said:

"DASA is working with businesses of all shapes and sizes and academia to find and fund the latest innovations to benefit UK defence and security."
"Building on the successful first phase of this competition we are continuing to mesh cognitive science, artificial intelligence (AI) and the latest technologies to develop tools to support MOD personnel across their working lives."

Full article at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/1m-innovation-boost-for-service-personnels-welfare-and-training

7 October 2019

New: Immersive 3D and VR Training and Learning White Paper

An updated 2019 edition of our Immersive Environments for Training, Education and Learning White Paper has just been released, describing how immersive 3D and Virtual Reality can be used to train and educate. The 28 page paper presents some of the academic models which we use to help support the design process, considers some of the key design decisions, identifies the benefits of 3D/VR over physical training and eLearning (whilst accepting that a blended approach is probably the goal), and describes a variety of uses cases by Daden and others to show how immersive training can be used and its efficacy.

You can download a copy FOR FREE (and no sign-up required) at https://www.daden.co.uk/resources - just scroll down to the White Papers section.

BTW - the first version of this paper came out in 2014!

World Space Day at Worcester

We spent Saturday down at the Hive in Worcester for the second year exhibiting at the World Space Day event - apparently the biggest free one in the UK.

We had two Oculus Quests (plus a spare) and managed to screencast from one to a monitor, but the wifi was too ropey to get multi-user working. We had two experiences: standing and exploring on Io whilst looking at Jupiter, and standing and exploring on Phobos whilst looking at Mars.

Both headsets were active non-stop from 10am to 4pm, we didn't even get lunch and had people coming round again for a 2nd go by the end. Lots of great comments from people about how much they enjoyed the experience, and lots of parents taking photos and videos as their kids explored VR and got excited by space.

And it just so happened that the only other people there with a VR headset were RAF Fylingdales, or trials partner on an MOD project!

1 October 2019

Daden on UK Government DOS

Daden has been accepted onto the UK Government's Digital Outcomes and Specialists Framework (DOS). This means that we can bid for outcome based solutions from the UK public sector through the Government's Digital Marketpace.

So if you are a public sector provider and need help with chatbots, conversational AI, immersive training and visualisation or Virtual Reality you can now post your requirements out through DOS for us to respond to!

And remember that both Trainingscapes and Discourse are already on the Digital Marketplace if you need a ready-made cloud-based solution at: https://www.digitalmarketplace.service.gov.uk/g-cloud/search?q=daden&lot=cloud-software

AI Survey

In our MD's book on Virtual Humans there is an "AI Landscape" diagram, first shown on this blog, mapping a variety of systems against how "sophisticated" they are, and how "human" they seem.

We plotted a variety of real and imagined computer systems, robots and AI on the diagram, but that was just our assessment (and deliberately not shown above!).

Now we're giving YOU a chance to tell us where you think these systems should be on the chart, as well as how much they reflect your idea of what AI is, and what elements are important in a virtual human.

Just fill out the survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/W6XM537

AND there's a chance to win a copy of the book if you leave us your email at the end of the survey.

The survey is open until 31st March, and we'll be publishing results here in mid 2020.

We look forward to hearing your views.