ARLINGTON Va. — If computer games are pushing the envelope for graphics and computation, and if “serious games” are pushing the limits of game technology, who’s pushing the limits of serious game technology?
Meet Dr. Dave Warner, director of the Institute for Informational Informatics, Tuesday’s (Nov. 1) keynote speaker at the second Washington Serious Game Summit held here this week.
Warner, a medical doctor, PhD and pioneer in the application of “distributed intelligence” and digital technology in the field of neurological medicine, was introduced to an overflow crowd of game geeks as “the man who is pushing the limits of the field that is pushing the limits of the field.”
No small accomplishment.
Warner took the audience on an amusing tour of the world of “paradigm busting” applied neuro-cosmological computing and “perception modulation” techniques. His address was also peppered with demonstrations of clever “augmentative communications” tricks from his backpack of “spatially-oriented information tools." The tools were developed by Warner and his research team to “accelerate our capacity to understand” and solve complex problems, Warner said.
Titled, "Riding the Cutting Edge of Distributed Intelligence," Warner explained how certain methods in serious games design can both increase and streamline the flow of information between people and computers.
Warner is not a serious game developer, but his work on distributed intelligence, cutting-edge sensor networks and virtual reality makes him “a shared partner in the quest to change the landscape of learning, healthcare defense and beyond,” according to Ben Sawyer, founder of the Serious Game Summit and the events program chairman.
"David Warner's research will undoubtedly change the way we approach serious games development," Sawyer, said, adding that his “keynote underscores the importance of understanding how the mind absorbs information in order to create effective game applications."
Much of Warner’s recent work and travels have been to global hotspots where his “intelligence on demand” has been applied to solving or ameliorating both military problems — mine detection in Iraq, for example — to humanitarian relief and intelligence gathering and distribution in mega-disaster zones like Banda Aceh, Indonesia following the tsunami there late last year.
“Mother Nature is the worst terrorist of all,” Warner dryly observed, pointing to the havoc caused in Banda Aceh by one of the worst disasters in recorded history. His efforts there were focused on airborne informatics and helping rescuers and relief workers on the ground better understand the scope and magnitude of that far-flung disaster as it unfolded.
Distributed intelligence studies the flow of information between humans and computers. The goal is to identify methods and techniques which optimize information flow between humans and computers — something that happens regularly in computer gaming.
Seeking a better man-machine interface
From the philosophic orientation of general systems theories and physiologically valid human information sciences, Warner’s work seeks to explore relevant issues in interactive human-computer interface design. His work embraces “an eclectic integration of cognitive neuroscience, perceptual psycho-physics and bio-cybernetics in the creation of robust interactive systems.”
Through the application of quickly improvised, unique man-machine interfaces, virtual, wireless communications networks and clever display technology, Warner’s trademark is an innate ability to cut through chaos to bring what he terms “shareable situational awareness” to bear on some of the world’s most intractable problems.
His also hopes to fundamentally changing the way that humans interact with information systems. According to Warner's official biography, he has gained international recognition for pioneering new methods of physiologically based human-computer interaction.
"His research efforts have focused on advanced instrumentation and new methods of analysis which can be applied to evaluating various aspects of human function as it relates to human-computer interaction," his bio states.
“Warner's work has indicated an optimal mapping of interactive interface technologies to the human nervous system's capacity to transduce, assimilate and respond intelligently to information in an integrative-multisensory interaction, which will fundamentally change the way that humans interact with information systems," it adds.
Application areas include quantitative assessment of human performance, augmentative communication systems, environmental controls for the disabled, medical communications and integrated interactive educational systems.
Warner is particularly active in the transfer of aerospace and other military-derived technologies to the fields of health care and education. His specific areas of interest include:
Advanced instrumentation for the acquisition and analysis of medically relevant biological signals.
Intelligent informatic systems which augment both the general flow of medical information and provide decision support for the health care professionals.
Public access health information databases designed to empower citizens to become more involved in their own health care.
Advanced training technologies that adaptively optimize interactive educational systems to the capacity of individual users.