Our History: the story of Virtual Human Role-Players
While working for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Dr. Dale Olsen identified a universal need to train communication skills by giving learners a chance to practice conversations. He developed and patented PeopleSIM to provide simulated practice opportunities. The FBI funded the first PeopleSim system to teach criminal investigation techniques allowing agents to talk with Mike Simmen, a bank employee who may have embezzled money. That work started in 1997, and a dynamic new product was delivered in 1998.
The success of the first PeopleSim training system generated an immediate demand for other systems addressing various topics including suicide intervention, border interviews, and recruiting. In 2002, Dr. Olsen obtained an exclusive license for PeopleSim and founded SIMmersion as a spinout company. With the success of SIMmersion, Dr. Olsen purchased all rights to the technology and SIMmersion has developed a wide variety of training systems addressing many topics including customer service, performance coaching, Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, sales, suicide intervention, screening and brief interventions, courtroom testimony, job interviews, and many others. (Learn More »)
Since the company was founded, the focus has been on developing training products with content that meet the highest possible standards. To accomplish this, we have been fortunate to team with leaders in the fields of our applications (Learn More ») while winning highly competitive funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIAAA, NIMH, & NIDA), the CDC, the FBI, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Air Force, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Forces Command, the intelligence community, and private industry.
Over the two-plus decades of product development, the PeopleSim teams have listen carefully to customer requests and needs. As a result, technology development has been underway since the first system was developed and delivered to the FBI on CD. The technology improvements are too numerous to mention, but include techniques to make simulated people more realistic, a comprehensive data management system, a series of tools making the authoring more efficient and of higher quality, and highly efficient video production and integration. Equally important, the two decades of experience has produced unparalleled capability to work with subject-matter experts to design and build systems that meet customer requirements.