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San Marcos team Just in Time VR wins GigaTECH app competition

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San Marcos team Just in Time VR wins GigaTECH app competition.
Photo by Kirby Crumpler | Staff Photographer

Just in Time VR, a team of Texas State professors in hand with Austin officials has won the U.S. GigaTECH app competition with their virtual reality app that allows EMS personnel to train for use of the AmBus, a disaster relief vehicle.

AmBus is an emergency response vehicle that emergency medical responders deploy in severe cases where many people require fast treatment in the field. Essentially a much larger ambulance, the vehicle is equipped to handle disaster response but is costly to use and not available to all municipalities.

Team captain Dr. Scott Smith said that the aim for Just in Time VR was to create an app that allowed EMS personnel to train using the AmBus without having to expend the resources required to physically retrieve and operate the vehicle. With the use of Just in Time VR, responders will be able to get more time to train using the AmBus, whereas they typically only have as little as a day per year.

The victory at GigaTECH was timely for Just in Time VR, with the occurrence of several hurricanes lingering in the media.

Scott Turnbull, a judge at the competition, said that the natural disasters taking place around the country drove the importance of having technology that can allow EMS professionals to respond as efficiently as possible, even with seldom-used and expensive systems.

The GigaTECH app competition itself is born of D.C. based U.S. Ignite, a nonprofit organization aimed at promoting apps to increase public welfare. U.S. Ignite works with many municipalities around the country to discover and help fund apps that improve public safety, healthcare, education, energy, transportation and advanced manufacturing.

“U.S. Ignite spurs the creation of next-generation applications and services that leverage advanced networking technologies to build the foundation for smart communities, including cities, rural areas, regions, and states,” according to it’s website.

Turnbull said that while the competition currently takes place yearly, U.S. Ignite would ultimately like to host multiple events each year. In any case, this may not be the only time that Just in Time VR takes home a victory in the competition, as Smith said that the team sees great potential for VR to grow into the emergency response industry. With such a direction in focus, the team seems primed for U.S. Ignite’s goals for the competition.

“We are looking for apps that make significant improvements in one or more of the five focus areas: Transportation, Education, Clean Energy, Health and Public Safety,” reads the scorecard used by competition judges. “We don’t want to choose applications that are not likely to be implemented.”

With every city in the nation needing efficient and well practiced first responders, it seems inevitable that technologies such as this will become commonplace.

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