Immersive Technology

Immersive Technologies: Changing the Way We Think, Communicate and Train

The average person thinks of gaming and entertainment when it comes to virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR). For Tyler Gates and his partners at Brightline Interactive, the realm of creative technology goes much deeper than that. In his presentation at the monthly Cyber Bytes networking event, Gates spoke of the limitless impact immersive technology can have when it’s used strategically, with a platform mindset. “It’s time to think of it as a medium of communication — not simply an experience,” Gates said. “Immersive technology is, by far, the most efficient and effective way to train those who are interested in learning about cyber security at any level.” 

Brightline’s impact 

Having founded Brightline Interactive in 2004, Gates and his partners have developed various forms of creative technology for both government and commercial brand clients. “We design, code and build things like simulation and training experiences, modules for learning and capability sets,” Gates said, “for the purpose of training people faster, in a more measured and analytical way.” 

In 2004, in the early days of touch screen, object tracking and gesture, simulation and training was simpler. Beginning in 2014 and beyond, it’s mostly immersive technology- augmented, virtual and mixed reality. “It goes beyond the display to include artificial intelligence, complex databasing and machine learning based on sensory integration sensors that are integrated into non-electronic devices,” Gates said. “It’s then tracked with sensor data and interpreted in some cases using machine learning.” 

The company itself has been fully-interactive and integrated, not only in designing, coding and building new technology, but in advocacy and training, as well. Brightline Interactive founded the Washington, D.C. chapter of VR/AR Association (VRARA) in January of 2018, chairs the Marketing and Advertising Committee, launched the Defense and Intelligence Committee in April of 2019, and even hosts a global podcast on iTunes and Spotify called, Everything VR/AR

“People tend to understand a new thing through a lens of an old thing,” Gates said, “and because of that, it limits the ability to be creative with new technology.” Gates travels throughout the United States and internationally with the mission of shifting the mindset surrounding VR and AR.

5 Reasons to train inside a virtual context

Gates finds that when people hear “cyber security” they often equate that to penetration tests on cloud services. “People are trying to get into the cyber field because they hear there’s a job shortage, but the shortage itself is caused, in part, by a lack of awareness of what cyber actually is,” Gates said. “It’s critical that those entering the workforce have an up-to-date understanding of advanced capabilities. We have threats that have just recently been invented in cyber, yet we are teaching about those threats with antiquated technology.”

#1: Deliver more content, more info, more command lines, more scenarios. 

Achieve infinite levels of personalization without ever sacrificing scale. 

Training is typically done at individual terminals based on different threat scenarios. It’s confined by the number of screens the trainee has in front of them, thus limiting the number of command lines they can work on at the same time. Leveraging immersive technology can yield higher levels of learning by fully immersing the learner in an unlimited number of command lines. 

#2 Track decisions and provide feedback in real time. 

Achieve efficient comprehension and retention.  

Native eye tracking monitors what a trainee is paying attention to at the exact moment of threat detection. “Since we can track where you’re looking and how you’re responding,” Gates explained, “we can provide immediate feedback to reinforce good decisions or correct mistakes.” Efficiencies are realized in this process by actively developing the learner within each training scenario, thus eliminating their retention of negative information. When a simulation is completed, the learner has arrived at 100% completion. 

#3 Measure the physiological and neurological response. 

Achieve optimal intensity and engagement. 

Building training scenarios that allow for real-time tracking and adapting helps facilitate the highest level of impact in the shortest amount of time. It’s extremely critical that training is conducted at a sustained level of intensity without inducing trauma, visual fatigue or boredom. When adaptations are consistent, effective and appropriate, higher levels of comprehension are achieved in less time, at a lower cost. 

#4 Visualize the context, problem and solution. 

Achieve deeper understanding. 

Through mission believability and the tailored, adaptive and iterative scenario training, engagement is authentic, repeatable and scalable. Both complexity and cost effectiveness is increased at the same time. Ultimately, this results in training scenarios that yield a higher level of proficiency with decreased training time. 

#5 Generate a continuous training loop. 

Sustain results through the immersive ecosystem. 

In measuring data with neurological and physical sensors, that data can then be pulled off the sensor, travel back through the database, filter through artificial intelligence and then be displayed again through VR. “People tend to understand immersive technology as siloed,” Gates said, “but it’s critical that these interconnected pieces are understood because the reality is, they feed off one another.”

Why the immersive ecosystem is crucial to cyber security today

Within the realm of immersive technology there exists a constant and fluid feedback loop. Gates calls this the immersive ecosystem. First, data is collected (edge computing), stored (cloud), interpreted (AI and machine learning), visualized (VR/AR) and finally, measured (sensor integration). “The immersive ecosystem is crucial to cyber security today,” Gates said. “This is not novelty or futuristic tech.”  

Starting the training and simulating data for edge computing, that data then facilitates a visual theme that’s displayed within virtual reality. Trainees can perform inside a specific scene where testing and measuring proficiency is done efficiently. Gates believes the greatest value lies in the capability to adapt the real-live scenario. Decreasing or increasing the level of intensity based on the level of response enables the trainer to maintain the visual theme within the balanced level of intensity. 

“Immersive technology provides a way to explain and visualize information in a visual-spatial context,” Gates said. “It creates training scenarios where the learner is fully engaged with immediate feedback and measured responses. That’s what makes it faster, smarter and cheaper.”

“The future is now,” Gates said. “In order to grow larger, we have to find ways to grow smaller.” With its increased personalization, immersive technology leads directly to the increase in global scalability. Building an immersive technology ecosystem is the most intelligent way to address the readiness of the cyber warrior.

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