As further evidence that Virtual worlds technology is useful to all types of entities, including the Federal Government, the USDA recently announced an award of a virtual world contract to four companies: Advanced Software Systems, INC; Avaya Government Solutions INC; Science Application International; and Three Wire Systems LLC.
The solicitation states that the purpose of the contract is to: “obtain a broad range of high-quality virtual world software products …. to foster enhanced participation from commercial and non-government entities to assist the agency in the development of virtual world solutions.” Sounds like this is just the beginning of what could be a multistage evolution and helps explain the four winners.
On a personal note, we would like to congratulate all the winners, but in particular, Three Wire which is a Pillsbury client. This contract award is another bit of good news for Three Wire which also recently won the U.S. Army Simulation & Training Technology Center’s Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge for best collaboration in a virtual world by a government contractor. The award was presented at the Defense GameTech Users’ Conference in Orlando in March for Three Wire’s VetAdvisor Virtual Room (VVR).
The overview of the project is pretty interesting. It states:
One or more software platform(s) is required that enables the Government to build, customize and host one or more interactive persistent virtual world(s) (VW) where users can operate over networks for the purposes of collaboration, training, rehearsal, analysis, simulation, experimentation, and socialization.
The required features are desired to be similar or better to what is available in public virtual world environments like Second Life, There.com, or World of Warcraft. The Government requires that it be able to build and host a highly reliable and available private world that unlike the public environments is able to operate using firewalled or classified networks and is capable of integrating with legacy and emerging technologies. In addition, the Government must completely control the hosting environment, software licenses, support contracts service levels, content, experiences, and user access.
The Government envisions a fully immersive, persistent 3D experience using avatars as the user interface rather than more traditional 2D web based experiences. The VW infrastructure, core components, and tools must provide a complete platform to support collaboration.
The Government envisions a solution that is extensible where specialized functionality shall be provided through the use of plug-ins developed by other Government programs and/or commercial entities that interface to the VW through open Application Programmer’s Interfaces (API) and non-proprietary data formats that provide access to the internal VW data model.
An open architecture solution is required to provide the level of interoperability and extensibility that will be necessary for the wide variety of use cases anticipated.
Three Wire’s Award Winning Project
Three Wire’s award winning VVR project was done in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs and offers telehealth and virtual health delivery platforms for veteran mental health care. Providing a secure meeting place for veterans and Care Coaches (licensed behavior health professionals) to interact, the VetAdvisor Virtual Room features avatars representing both the veterans and Care Coaches. The avatars and the room can be personalized to the veteran’s hobbies and interests while providing real-time interaction. Virtual white boards and multi-purpose screens are used for presentations or accessing documents and websites. In comparison to relying solely on telephonic communication, the veteran is afforded a more personalized, visual and auditory experience.