Training technology evolving

Training-based technology could evolve into something you might see now on a futuristic TV show, according to Greg Otte, president of IES Interactive Training.

"I eventually see the holodeck from the Starship Enterprise," he said. People walk into a room and interact with others, which are actually computer-generated images.

Of course, that's in the distant future and very costly, he said. But simulation technology has come a long way from pulling strings to reproduce the feeling of flight to sophisticated computer programs that do the same job now. What will likely be the next step for simulators is a 360-degree environment to keep costs low, he said.

IES, which provides shooting simulators and other training technology to the public safety community, has seen 15 percent to 20 percent growth for the past four years, as simulators have become more popular and affordable. The federal focus on homeland security, he said, is going to generate funding to more state and local governments for such technology, so the company is starting to build courseware for simulators as another revenue stream.

Otte said the company also has an interactive classroom trainer that can run scenarios. In the classroom, students use handheld wireless keypads to answer true/false, yes/no and multiple-choice questions. So when a scenario unfolds, the instructor can ask when an individual should use lethal force and students answer in real time.

The instructor can see the answers on a monitor individually or in a graphical format. "He's polling his class, and as the course goes on, it empowers him to adjust the class to make sure the learning is actually taking place," Otte said. "If everybody gets it, we move on, saving time. If they don't, we know, and we can remediate right now right here."

Courses can range from sexual harassment to law enforcement issues. The technology is being marketed to public safety and emergency responder communities.

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