Local nonprofit exploring immersive technologies

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Concurrent Technologies Corporation was formed in 1987, as a non-profit defense contractor, landing countless multi-million dollar contracts with the Department of Defense.  Now, they’re working with new technologies.  Researchers at CTC in Johnstown are taking virtual reality to the next level.
 
Schawn Thropp, Technical Research Fellow at CTC, said, “What we’re focused on is really understanding the art of the possible with these devices.”  
 
That means devices that make virtual reality and augmented reality possible.  While both are considered immersive environments, they operate differently.  With virtual reality, you are fully immersed in the digital world that you’re in.  But with augmented reality, you can still see the room and the world around you, except there are layers of images and information. 
 
Ron Punako, Senior software engineer at CTC, said, “Augmented and virtual reality are the next wave of visualization technologies coming out.  Instead of having to be a slave to the rectangular box that sits on our desk all the time, we can place holograms and other data overlays into the environment with VR and AR in ways we just can’t with other technologies.”
 
Part of their research includes taking VR and AR and creating real world applications.  They’re already working with the military to figure out how immersive environments can help their training.
 
“Normally these soldiers will wear the VR goggles and walk around tethered with their weapons in a training simulation.  However, with some of the new generations of VR and AR coming out, being able to disconnect from those wires and giving the soldiers the ability to move about freely could give them a great advantage in their training,” said Punako. 
 
They’re also expanding into education and medicine. 
 
Thropp said, “Some in the health care industry are using these devices to train and practice.  Instead of using cadavers, they might be using a virtual human.  It’s just a different way, more advanced way to look at some of these educational experiences.”
 
Thropp and Punako say they do face challenges like motion sickness and the practicality of some of the devices.  But they’re still working to push the devices and solutions as far as they can.
 
“What can we do? We tend to have this mentality here that everything is possible, we just have to figure out how to do it,” Thropp said.
 
And they are constantly learning more about what they’re able to accomplish  while discovering the “art of the possible.”
 
Want to experience virtual reality or augmented reality for yourself?  Visit the CTC booth at Showcase for Commerce on Thursday, June 2nd, where they will have some of their devices.
 

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