A Little Background and Starting Off on the ‘Left’ Foot for 2014

By | January 3, 2014

Oh, what a comedian am I. My mother (and faithful blog reader) will understand my reference to ‘left’ foot, because I am left-handed (unlike my siblings).

This blog is officially attached to Equipment Simulations LLC, rather than something distinct and personal (from Jonathan Kaye) because I have represented the company for the past 13 years, and the company’s direction and vision are direct reflections of my personal and business thoughts. I thought with the start of 2014, it would be a good idea to revisit what I see as some of the seminal ideas that have created and shaped the vision over the years.

In a nutshell, I started the company many years ago with the conviction that simulations have an ever-increasing role in helping to create better training and marketing. That initial conviction increases almost on a day-by-day basis, and while simulations are getting a lot of attention nowadays, I think there is a lot of room for growth because the efforts tend to focus on what is technological possible, rather than what is practically relevent. Nowadays, instead of focusing on the word ‘simulation’, I describe my thoughts more about creating interactive experiences, and using simulation to put users/viewers into a interactive story that allows them to solve relevant problems.

In 1998, I had finished my PhD on the topic of using simulations to illustrate physiological and pathophysiological changes, and thought about how the integration of 3D graphics and traditional biomedical modeling could have an impact on healthcare training. In the mid- to late 90’s, I witnessed the beginning of the rise of the physical mannequin in simulation-based training for medical professionals, and felt there was both a need for more academic rigor and the potential for equally interesting development on the software front.

Being in academia was about exploring interesting ideas without necessarily having the constraint yet of practical purpose. I have seen many things in academia and business R&D that never left the lab because while their pursuit was noble, it was not practical to implement or deploy, and therefore the envisioned benefits would hardly ever reach the people who really needed a solution. Therefore, I was eager to shape my vision in a business context, because I believed the focus on producing business could help ground/focus potential academic ‘solutions’ to things. I started in the medical equipment sphere because of a few reasons: my background in the physiological domain, my colleagues, and that I could see that if people do not know how to use the device properly, or don’t know how to use new features of the device well, then the product could not be as effective as possible (categorize this one as ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’). My failing there from a business perspective was identifying a domain and connections to that domain (medical device companies) that had sufficient capital and interest to embrace this vision as well. In other words, I didn’t properly account for the amount of effort it would take to get attention from the people who I wanted to help.

During my graduate work, I became an EMT and worked as a volunteer for several years, and saw opportunities for simulation-based training in that domain, particularly around training exercises dealing with incident command decision making. This put me on a path eventually to connect with like-minded emergency responders, and in 2002, I made a connection in Orlando which would eventually become our CommandSim product line (and its evolution to SimsUshare). Similarly, my thoughts about relevance of simulations to product training were profoundly influenced by meeting David Castillo, eventually my co-author on our book. David pulled me away from an academic and technological perspective of simulations to the role of simulations as addressing problems people actually had on a day-to-day basis.

While the main thrust of the blog I believed would be about simulations, I also think the blog has a purpose merely to document periodically where I’m heading, what I’ve seen in the industry, and and what I’m doing. So many great ideas I believe come about by putting somewhat disparate things next to one another, and seeing a connection. In the medical domain, there is a saying, “if you didn’t document it, you didn’t do it.” If you don’t spend a little time documenting where you’re at, it is likely going to be harder to retrieve it from memory sometime later in a similarly impactful form as how it strikes you at the moment. My feeling (not always my doing!) is that it is critically important to put things down on paper (or electronic medium), because at some point in the future you may revisit an idea from a totally different perspective, or something you’ve said in the past have some new relevance in something you’ve just come across.

I think that’s kind of enough for the day, stay tuned for more of the developments over the next few days and weeks.


P.S. Thanks to ZeroToHero and Tena Carr for kicking me in the rear to get this started.

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