The Wide Area Virtual Environment
- Lessons Learned

Eric Acosta, Jamie Cope, Valerie Henry, Grady Wier,
Raymond Machacon, Richard Madrid, and Alan Liu

MMVR 2014

Workshop Abstract

The Wide Area Virtual Environment (WAVE) is a 1,000 sq. ft. immersive virtual environment designed for medical team training over an extended period of time. The WAVE blends 3D virtual reality, live patient actors, human patient simulators, and part task trainers to provide an unprecedented realism. The WAVE supports medical teams training continuously over a period of up to four days to simulate the rigors of military field medicine.

Development of the WAVE concept has achieved steady progress during the past 10 years. During this time, we have demonstrated the concept with a 3-screen WAVElet. The WAVElet is designed to augment established training programs with an immersive virtual reality capability. The Medical Readiness Training Center (MRTC) at Camp Bullis is the first facility to employ the WAVElet concept. The MRTC runs more than 500 WAVElet based training encounters a month.

In 2012, construction of the 1,000 sq. ft. WAVE began. Built at a cost of $7 million, the WAVE is the world's largest immersive virtual reality training theater. The WAVE is the first integrated training facility to integrate all major medical simulation modalities on this scale. It can do this in a controlled physical environment that can be changed as necessary to meet training requirements. The WAVE is capable of providing training to more than 200 participants a day. It is also capable of running continuous (24hr) training scenarios for up to four days. It can support the training for large scale mass casualty events.

In this workshop, we share the history, purpose, design, implementation, and operation of the WAVElet and WAVE. We will describe some of the challenges in generating 3D virtual environments on a massive scale. 3D modeling issues will be described. In particular, the challenges of developing 3D environments, animations, and lighting will be highlighted. Issues related to the integration of physical elements, such as air cannons, sound, smoke and scent generators will be presented. We will also share our experience in using this technology for medical instruction. We will discuss the nature and type of curriculum suited for WAVE training. We will share the feedback received after this training, and factors differentiating such training from conventional training environments. We will also describe our research on the efficacy of using immersive virtual environments for medical training. The implications of our early results will be discussed.

This workshop will conclude with an open forum. We will address questions from workshop participants related to the use of this technology.