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Team NextGen Interactions

5th place - $7,500 Prize
Best Demonstration of Public Safety Use Case - $4,000

Total value of prizes received through the CHARIoT Challenge: $47,250


About the Team

Team Members: Jason Jerald, Jason Haskins, Will Huse, Bolin Zhu, Scott Gainer, Charles Laird

NextGen Interactions has created VR/AR experiences on a wide range of platforms and has worked with market-leading clients such as AT&T, Logitech, Intel, Google, and Oculus. In terms of public safety,
NextGen Interactions won the 2017 NIST Virtual Public Safety Test Environment Challenge, was a finalist for the 2018 NIST Heads-Up Display (HUD) Navigation Challenge for firefighters, and received a multi-year grant from NIST to simulate and evaluate future first-responder physical interfaces using VR. In addition to NIST-funded public safety research, NextGen Interactions also helps clients develop law enforcement simulation and training systems.

Company name and logo

Jason Jerald, CEO
Jason Jerald served as Project Lead for this project. Dr. Jerald is CEO at NextGen Interactions and serves on multiple advisory boards. He has been creating VR systems and applications for over 20 years with over 70 VR-related projects across more than 40 organizations including Valve, Oculus, Virtuix, Sixense, MergeVR, NASA, General Motors, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, three U.S. national laboratories, and seven universities. Jason's work has been featured on ABC's Shark Tank, on the Discovery Channel, in the New York Times, and on the cover of the MIT Press journal "Presence". Jason has authored numerous publications, most notably the best-selling book "The VR Book: Human Centered Design for Virtual Reality."

Jason Haskins, Lead Technical Designer
Jason Haskins served as Creative Director for this project. Mr. Haskins is Lead Technical Designer at NextGen Interactions, where he tackles day-to-day challenges of conceptualizing, designing, and implementing VR solutions using tools such as the Unity Game engine and Autodesk Maya. His design focus is in training and educational research in New Media and his technical proficiencies help him ideate on a broad range of projects, enabling him to better empathize with his team mates while generating solutions that fit with big picture thinking. Jason has worked for multiple research companies including BTEC and the Center for Educational Informatics (CEI) as a Game designer using the Unity engine. Jason has a degree in Art and Design from North Carolina State University and a background in Computer Science, Information Technologies, and hands on training in health care as a Corpsman in the US Navy.

Will Huse, UX Designer
Will Huse served as UX Designer for this project. Will’s journey into XR started as a co-founder of Moment XR where he worked as a designer and user tester to create a VR tool for designers to prototype interactive XR experiences. His degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development has given him a deep understanding of identifying market needs while his curiosity as an avid technologist has given him a wide view of the technological landscape. Combining these two allows him to create the applicable solutions to diverse problems.

Bolin Zhu, Software Engineer
Bolin Zhu served as the Software Engineer for this project. His degrees in Computer science and Interactive Media & Game Development at Worcester Polytechnic Institute paved the way for him with a solid background to enter the VR/AR industry. With the enthusiasm about VR/AR built up during college with research works and grant projects using Vive, Oculus, and Hololens, he also attended various VR-related events and hackathons to further extend his knowledge about the industry and improve the related skills in programming and skills. His  work at UMass Medical enabled him to pioneer a good number of innovative medical VR/AR applications that made him believe the VR/AR industry can help various aspects of lives.

Scott Gainer, Industrial Designer
Scott Gainer served as an Industrial Designer for this project. Mr. Gainer conceptualizes, designs and fabricates real world objects to be used in concert with location-based VR experiences. He earned his Industrial Design Degree at North Carolina State University.

Lieutenant (ret.) Charlie Fair, subject-matter expert
Lieutenant (ret.) Charlie Fair served as a subject-matter expert on this project. Has over 30 years of senior management experience in public safety, overseeing his agency's Emergency Medical Services Information Technology. In addition to his paramedic expertise, he is involved in several boards and organizations focused on public safety communications and technology. He also served as a public safety collaborator for the project, sharing his expertise and experience with NextGen Interactions.

Charles Laird, subject-matter expert
Charles Laird served as a subject-matter expert on this project. Mr. Laird works part-time as a first-responder subject-matter expert and community manager for NextGen Interactions. He works full-time for the First Responder Emerging Technologies Program in the Broadband Infrastructure Office of the North Carolina Department of IT, where he is the Program Specialist. Charles is also a volunteer firefighter with the Youngsville Fire Department in Franklin County, North Carolina, and has been in the fire service for 12 years. He previously worked for Emergency Management for 4 years as a Search and Rescue Coordinator and Emergency Management Officer. He has always been a "technology buff" and is excited to be supporting our first responder community in the technology space.

First-person view of a console showing indicators, map controls, and data layers plotted along a map showing latitude and longitude.

The Solution

RespondAR is a prototype augmented reality interface that demonstrate how emerging technologies might be utilized by first responders in the future. Their overarching goals was to make an intuitive interface that provides IoT data to first responders. For incident command, they provided an overview of the map and corresponding data with the ability to look at data in detail as needed. For the HUD, they only provided the most relevant information so as to not overwhelm first responders. 

Key Features

  • Incident Command
  • Filtering of data of both known geolocation data and staged data by layer categories such as casualties, known occupants, vital signs, air quality, radiation sensors, and voltage sensors.
  • Deployment and placement of resources and indicators such as first responder units, hazards, and incidents.
  • Heads-Up Display
  • Prioritized alerts so responder is not overwhelmed and distracted by unnecessary information
Created November 10, 2021, Updated April 5, 2022