July 14, 2021By Lance Baily

GIGXR Awarded Contract to Develop XR Simulation Training for Air Force Academy

Immersive learning system and mixed reality healthcare applications company GIGXR announced on July 13, 2021 that the company has received a $750,000 Phase II Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) contract from AFWERX. This contract will be used to develop Extended Reality (XR) simulation training to help the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA). Specifically, the funding will be allocated to developing HoloChem, a new mixed reality application for USAFA 100 and 200 level chemistry courses. HoloChem will then be used to help cadets improve learning and engagement in vital chemistry studies.

The HoloChem XR application seeks to enrich chemistry learning by using interactive gamification and situation-based training. Further, the solution leverages GIGXR’s cutting-edge ability to create lifelike mixed reality learning experiments. Traditional chemistry curricula, with a focus on abstract understanding of concepts such as bonding and solvents, often falls short in both facilitating learning outcomes and keeping students engaged in the learning process. Alternatively, HoloChem takes those principles out of the lab, off the page and into visually compelling scenarios that use gamification techniques to encourage concept retention and critical thinking skills.

David King Lassman, CEO of GIGXR, shared that being awarded the Phase II SBIR contract is an achievement that GIGXR is incredibly proud of and marks a milestone in mixed reality’s valuable impact on education. He shared that the company is honored to be working with the U.S. Air Force Academy, whose reputation for academic excellence and technological innovation is second to none.

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“USAFA needed a product that enabled their instructors to provide hands-on, immersive learning and future-proof execution,” King Lassman said. “HoloChem simulates key real life experiences that labs simply cannot and allows instructors to reach multiple campuses or remote students to match the ultra-realistic learning experience available to the cadets in the instructor’s own classroom.”

Captain Wale Lawal, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the Department of Chemistry for the U.S. Air Force Academy shared that he ultimately sought out a chemistry application that matched the rigor and quality of the U.S. Air Force’s institution. He shared his belief that traditional chemistry labs lack the immersive, safe-to-fail environments students need to develop the critical thinking skills for using chemistry in the real world.

“Turning to GIGXR was an easy choice, as they have leveraged the capacities of mixed reality to give our cadets the best possible foundation of chemistry knowledge and comprehension,” Lawal said. “GIGXR’s mixed reality learning solutions allows USAFA educators to immerse students in ultra-realistic, interactive scenarios to transform their understanding of chemistry from rote memorization or rigid ‘cookbook chemistry’ to real-time problem-solving. This kind of learning mimics the challenges they might face in the future, which would otherwise be impossible to simulate or place our students at risk.”

Delivered through GIGXR’s Application Platform, HoloChem will open up new immersive learning experiences for both teachers and learners to benefit from tomorrow’s technology today. This will be able to occur without having to invest time or resources into learning software. Instructors using the Microsoft HoloLens 2 headset will be able to create and share content with learners either also wearing headsets or connecting via Android or iOS smartphones and tablets.

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“We’re taking something that traditionally can only be accomplished in a lab environment with equipment and chemicals, and creating an immersive experience using mixed reality that precisely mimics it. This is especially critical in a post-covid world, where social distancing and remote learning will persist. Moreover, given the requirement to have these experiments supervised in real-world conditions for safety reasons, experiencing them in mixed reality creates a safe-to-fail environment that mitigates that risk,” King Lassman said. “Mixed reality is going to transform the way we teach and learn, taking the most complex and visually impactful parts of the curriculum and presenting it in a way that is ultra-realistic and collaborative.”

King Lassman continued that, during the course of the project, GIGXR will be working directly with the chemistry department at the USAFA to identify experiments and how they can be structured to improve student engagement, critical thinking and understanding of general and specific chemistry concepts. He shared that the experiments will be introduced in phases, giving GIGXR an opportunity to receive feedback from the USAFA prior to the final delivery of experiments. To measure the success of these experiences in increasing our learning outcome objectives, he said GIGXR will work with researchers at the USAFA to implement a study when the final polished prototypes will be made available. This research will occur when the experiences are introduced into CHEM 100 and CHEM 200 courses during January and February 2022.

“Training and education are extremely compelling use cases for our mixed reality headsets,” added Greg Sullivan, Director of Mixed Reality at Microsoft. “Powerful, versatile hardware supports students in mastering and applying complex concepts. Content developed by our mixed reality partners such as GIGXR transforms the learning process, especially in highly technical applications such as those for USAFA.”

More About GIGXR

Headquartered in Los Angeles, California with global customers in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and the U.K., GIGXR is a provider of extended reality (XR) learning systems for instructor-led teaching and training that enhances learning outcomes for medical and nursing schools, hospitals and higher education and the Department of Defense. GIGXR’s immersive learning system includes a growing catalogue of mixed reality applications that run on a robust platform, designed to break through the limitations of conventional 2D learning resources, by placing true-to-life 3D simulations in a collaborative physical space using the Microsoft HoloLens 2.

GIGXR is a provider of immersive learning solutions to leading universities and medical systems around the world: The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (U.S.), Ursuline College (U.S.), Leeds University (U.K.), Queensland University (Australia), University of Canberra (Australia), Otago Polytechnic (New Zealand) and more. The company’s flagship products, HoloPatient and HoloPatient Remote, use volumetric video to create safe-to-fail environments in which medical and nursing students can practice vital diagnostic, communication and clinical reasoning skills.

Learn More About GIGXR

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