October 8, 2020 – Virtro, a developer of competency-based immersive training simulations for virtual reality (VR) and browser-based platforms, has recently announced that it has received funding from Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) as part of the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program. The scope of work will involve Virtro developing an immersive language application to help members of the Canadian Armed Forces practice and retain their English and French skills.
The IDEaS program supports innovative solutions in the conceptual stages. Virtro’s specific contract came from its artificially intelligent (AI)-driven VR and conversational application proposal in response to the government challenge notice ‘Beyond The Classroom: Innovative language learning and retention’, which was published last year.
Commenting on the funding announcement, Chief Executive Officer at Virtro, Jordan Brighton, said: “We are excited that the Canadian Department of National Defence has seen promise in the proposal submitted by Virtro as innovators in technology-driven conversational learning solutions.” Brighton added, “Our team is continuing to work through tough challenges to develop technology that makes a huge difference in people’s lives. It’s an honour to help members of the armed forces hone their language capabilities.”
Virtro is working to develop an application to help learners practice and retain their second language, either English or French, with AI and VR technology. Virtro’s proprietary conversation engine will allow learners to have immersive free-flowing conversations with Virtual Humans, enabling users to practice speaking and listening as they would naturally in the real-world.
Virtro’s President, Lee Brighton, said: “The technology we are working with is pushing the boundaries of AI technology. Learners will have a program to practice and retain English and French skills, and be put in a realistic role-playing scenario such as conducting a media briefing or performance evaluation”.
This is not the first time that Canada’s DND has explored the use of XR technology. Earlier this year it was announced that the Royal Canadian Navy would be expanding its trial of a mixed reality remote support system. It is also not Virtro’s first time developing VR language applications – the company offers a language learning platform called ‘ArgoLingo‘, which provides language learners with a VR speaking and listening practice space. Learners can have dynamic and open conversations with Virtual Humans (AI characters), in a game-based learning experience.
Virtro stated that it is forecasting a fully functional prototype for the DND by January 2021. For more information on the company, please visit the Virtro website.
Video credit: Virtro / YouTube