Corrections or additions?

These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the

March 28, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

For Firefighters, E-Training From Stonehouse Media

You are a volunteer firefighter called to an arson


Do you pick up the wrong pieces of evidence and fail to collect the

right ones? Not if you trained with a virtual reality program devised

by Stonehouse Media.

With a group of reinsurance companies Stonehouse Media created and

produced the recreation of a fire scene, called InterFire, which was

distributed 18 months ago to 80,000 law enforcement and fire


around the country.

The project cost more than $700,000, yet anyone can buy this program

at the online cost, $9.95. "The whole idea was to raise the base

knowledge for fire investigation," says Rod Ammon, the president

of Stonehouse, which expanded last fall to new offices on Lenox Drive.

"We really needed to do something to educate firefighters who

are walking into a fire scene." Two other sections include a


with hours of material — video, audio, and print — and a


center with 600 pages of searchable reference material. His firm


the distribution and the website and has a contract to run the website

for a year.

Click within a scene to examine objects, pick them up, collect


and do an investigation. A website supports this "game" with

750 pages of material and hundreds of pieces of information that need

to be collected with witness interviews. "They can choose from

a list of questions, and until you ask the right questions, you don’t

get more," says Ammon. "While this is being done, it is


to create a report for a superior or to review for themselves."

"One of our greatest successes has been using virtual reality

for training under contract with pharmaceutical companies, producers,

and the Secret Service. We are using virtual reality interfaces to

create experiences that help bring the user to a surrounding that

is not easy to create," says Ammon. His firm is now involved


officers worldwide how to fight electronic crime, not only Secret

Service agents but any law enforcement personnel. It is working with

Media By Design to create virtual reality training for a



Ammon and his 50-percent partner, Jim Paulus, met at VideoSmith.

Ammon went to Northern Michigan University, Class of 1987, and Paulus

is an alumnus of Temple, Class of 1976. When VideoSmith moved from


Way to Philadelphia, they declined to move. "We wanted to take

what we know about television and high-end design and tie it into

interactive applications," says Ammon. "Now we have a total

media company supporting Fortune 100 firms, government agencies, and

local clients, for everything from television production and


to interactive training."

Among their clients and partners are InfoFirst and a Sarnoff spinoff,

LifeClips, which is going to use video and compression for an online

retail business. Also with Sarnoff, it interviewed teenagers to


a piece telling how the work environment needs to be changed to


the bright ones.

Stonehouse Media offers support for producers of video production,

animation, and multimedia, also Internet consulting. "A client

who used to ask for video production can now work on the total design

for whatever they are doing, from marketing through training,"

Ammon says, pointing to inhouse services for compression (rich media

for Internet applications) and distribution via tape, CDs, DVD, or

the web.

"Stonehouse takes advantage of what we know about high quality

production and stay focused on design and programming," says


"This keeps us from becoming a commodity. We get great looking

solutions that take advantage of databases but are enticing.

Stonehouse Media Inc., 989 Lenox Drive, Suite 110,

Princeton 08540. Rod Ammon, president. 609-896-9555; fax,


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