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ARA Applies NetImmerse 3D Game Engine to Serious Business of Emergency Preparedness

3D game engine shows vast potential for computer simulations

RALEIGH, N.C., January 11, 2001 - The same technologies that power interactive 3D games might save lives.  NDL's (Chapel Hill, N.C.) NetImmerse 3D game engine, used to create more than two dozen game titles worldwide, has been licensed by Applied Research Associates (ARA) to develop a
computer-animated training environment for emergency response specialists.

ARA's Southeast Division office in Raleigh, N.C., is currently developing the simulated environment for a chemical manufacturer.  But the CD-ROM program might eventually be used by HazMat teams worldwide to practice for and
respond efficiently to hazardous materials accidents, according to Phil Egly, ARA's project manager.

A Perfect Fit

"The concept of creating a computer training and planning tool for HazMat teams is not unusual, but the use of a game engine to power it is," says Graham Rhodes, ARA's project engineer.  From Rhodes' perspective, the NetImmerse game engine is a perfect fit for the environments that ARA wants to create.

"The gaming industry is the driving force in 3D real-time technology," says Rhodes.  "We need to create the same type of environment that one would experience in a great 3D game: realistic scenes that users can interact with just as they would in real-life situations. NetImmerse allows us to create a visual tool that HazMat teams can use to manage the resources at their disposal to mitigate a disaster."

In a game environment, NetImmerse's real-time 3D graphics allow players to navigate lushly textured scenes and immerse themselves in the action of the game.  In an emergency response situation, the game engine will serve a much more serious purpose:  It will allow HazMat teams to simulate moves
inside and outside the accident site and to anticipate where danger might be after an accident.  All this can be done in a computer environment that looks and feels like the real thing.

"Our environment will allow HazMat response teams to visualize, communicate and rehearse," says Egly.  "They will be able to discern instantly the source of danger, where evacuation should occur, and if there is a possibility for casualties.  They can then react quickly to manage the situation."

A New Way to Simulate

General-purpose game engines such as NetImmerse have the potential to revolutionize computer-simulated training and response applications, according to John Austin, NDL's president.  In the past, these applications required virtual-reality software that used special equipment such as headsets and
ran on graphics supercomputers costing $100,000 or more.  With 3D game engines, the applications can be developed and used on PCs and game consoles.

"The result is cheaper development and operational costs," says Austin. "Emergency response preparedness is just the beginning.  There are scores of potential applications for NetImmerse in such areas as military, aviation, automotive and new-product simulations; visualization of large-scale properties and buildings; interactive 3D environments on the web; and many others."

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