American soldiers are masters at using their weapons to survive in combat zones. Now, with a video-game system called ELECT BiLAT, scientists and engineers are showing troops how to add another dimension -- enhanced cultural awareness and social skills -- to their arsenal of talents.
With ELECT BiLAT, troops can hone this understanding safely on-screen by moving around an Iraqi community, interacting with villagers, and observing local customs, all via the guidance of a virtual teacher. Simulated challenges expose soldiers to real-life situations, helping them gain experience and sharpen their problem-solving skills before they're put to the test in the field.
"What you gave us, what you helped us learn, is exactly what we were doing in real life every day," says Julia Kim, project director at the Institute for Creative Technologies, which developed the game for the Army.