US Air Force awards HTX Labs $1.25M SBIR Phase II contract to expand its EMPACT immersive learning platform

In Virtual Reality News

June 8, 2022 – HTX Labs, developer of the EMPACT Immersive Learning Platform, has announced that it has been awarded a new USD $1.25 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contract by the US Air Force (USAF) to work with US Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC) to enhance its EMPACT platform to facilitate collaborative, multi-role immersive learning capabilities in support of maintenance training for the B-52 aircraft.

HTX stated that it will leverage the contract to bring EMPACT’s secure, cloud-based immersive content development, management, and distribution platform to AFGSC, delivering realistic immersive environments and interactive virtual training content that will enable Airmen to train anytime, anywhere, on any device.

The company’s EMPACT platform enables users to deploy training scenarios within immersive simulation rooms, to standalone virtual reality (VR) headsets, or to mobile devices, allowing students to access training content whenever and wherever they need it.

As part of the contract, HTX will enhance EMPACT to support multi-user capability to ensure that Airmen can train with anyone. According to the company, this will help to enable synchronous, multi-role immersive training that allows multiple users (students and/or instructors) to join the same immersive learning environment to communicate, train, and learn together in real-time, supporting collaborative training across geographically disparate locations.

Additionally, the expansion of EMPACT will include new capabilities that will allow Airmen to safely train and practice together within immersive, multi-role scenarios for the B-52 aircraft, such as towing, engine run, and making aircraft safe for maintenance. When coupled with EMPACT’s no-code immersive content authoring tools, these new capabilities will help to support just-in-time mission training across geographically disparate locations.

The mission impact to AFGSC will be to:

  • Address the lack of physical aircraft and supporting equipment that is available for training purposes;
  • Improve crew chief effectiveness and preparedness;
  • Shorten the training pipeline overall (from BMT grad;ation to qualified B-52 Crew Chief)
  • Reduce training manpower requirements;
  • Serve as an enabler to Bomber Task Force/Multi-Capable Airmen (MCA) initiatives; and
  • Reduce required storage space to accommodate physical training devices by providing alternative virtual training capabilities. 

According to HTX, the results of the project will drive training engagement and retention of Airmen who may consider leaving the USAF for private sector opportunities, encourage teamwork through technology that enables Airmen to train collaboratively, and allow instructors to synchronously reach more students across remote geographically distributed locations. The ultimate outcome of the effort will be to increase throughput of the training pipeline, lower overall training costs, and produce more fully mission-ready Airmen.

“HTX Labs is excited to expand our presence into Global Strike Command and take on the challenge to aid Global Strike with its mission to produce highly qualified, engaged, and prepared Airmen,” said Chris Verret, President & Co-Founder, HTX Labs. “Our main objective with this SBIR award is to build on the success of the immersive training programs we have helped drive within AETC, and bring those successful results along with lessons learned over to Global Strike. Our team is also extremely excited to expand EMPACT capabilities to support collaborative multi-user training, which is a feature that has broad applicability across the USAF as well as the private sector.”

For more information on HTX Labs and its immersive training solutions, please visit the company’s website.

Image / video credit: HTX Labs / YouTube

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past seven years.