TRACLabs, Inc., a provider of extended reality (XR) training solutions, has recently been awarded a Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for the provision of an augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) training environment for first responders.
The contract will see TRACLabs provide a solution that will assist firefighters, EMTs and law enforcement officers with training by leveraging the mixed reality capabilities of the Microsoft HoloLens 2 headset. First responders will be able to experience various training simulations whilst wearing the device, and at the same time still be able to interact with the physical objects that they would use on the job.
This could include a firefighter learning how to correctly operate the hardware on a fire truck, or an EMT going through a scenario of how to deal with an unconscious person. Users will be able to wear the HoloLens 2 and have digital instructional information overlaid on top of real world equipment and environments through the use of AR and MR technologies.
Although the initial focus of the contract will be mainly concerned with providing a training solution, TRACLabs stated that it hopes to eventually employ other features into its solution, including Internet of Things (IoT) integration, which would allow users to see real-time information about the objects and environments that they are interacting with. For example, firefighters could be able to view the water pressure on a fire truck pump, EMTs could be able to see the vitals of a patient they are treating, and both could potentially be provided with building diagnostics and maps in order to speed up response time and situational awareness.
Commenting on the contract award, David Kortenkamp, CTO at TRACLabs, stated: “It is vital that first responders have access to the latest technology for training and operations. We are pleased to be working with NIST and our first responder organizations to develop and deploy augmented and mixed reality applications.”
NIST has conducted work in the past that looks at how XR technology can be employed to help train and assist first responders. In 2018 the organisation hosted a first responder ‘Virtual Reality (VR) Heads-up-Display (HUD) Navigation Challenge’ to advance UI technology research for first responders. According to TRACLabs, NIST has an entire workgroup dedicated to how technology can help improve the jobs of first responders.
The contract awarded by NIST is worth a total of USD $595,911 to TRACLabs for the first year. However, the contract has extension options up until September 2023, with a total award amount USD $1.5 million.
TRACLabs has previously worked on projects for NASA, and was awarded a contract by the agency worth just under USD $750,000 to integrate its ‘PRIDE-AVR’ system for assisting crewmembers with procedures on board the International Space Station. For more information on the company and its XR offerings, please visit the TRACLabs website.