Army virtual reality

Training and Simulation

Army to expand use of virtual tools, augmented reality for training

The Army is looking to incorporate more virtual environments, augmented reality tools and gaming into its training, as a way of preparing troops for major field exercises while adhering to tight budget constraints.

The Army Contracting Command has issued a Sources Sought notice asking for companies interested in demonstrating mature technologies for military training at home bases, including augmented reality tools that could be used by individual soldiers or units smaller than a company.

The tools would be used for home-base training in advance of the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 15.1, set to be held in October and November 2014 at Fort Bliss, Texas, and White Sands Missile Range, N.M., during which the Army plans to evaluate its tactical network baseline amid a variety of operational scenarios. The command is looking for responses by Jan. 31.

Tight budgets have led the military to explore greater use of virtual environments for training. The Army doesn’t have the resources at individual bases to conduct realistic training that incorporates joint, interagency, international or multinational environments, the contracting command says in its notice.  So training leaders are looking for simulated solutions.

The Army also is planning to combine several virtual programs into a single environment to support integrated training programs, Amber Corrin reports for FCW. "As we look to the future, we are going to transition ... into the future holistic training environment, live synthetic,” Brig. Gen. Michael Lundy, deputy commanding general at the Army Combined Arms Center, said at the recent AUSA Aviation symposium in Arlington, Va. “We want to get away from having multiple environments, virtual gaming and instruction, and go to one synthetic environment, get to a lower overhead and integrate the full operations process... according to the common operating picture."

NIE 15.1 will be the eighth of the Army’s twice-yearly exercises to evaluate and improve battlefield communications. NIE 14.2, scheduled for this spring, will test a new set of Network Operations tools developed under the Increment 3 of the Army’s Warfighter Information Network-Tactical.

NIE 15.1 will focus on a Network Baseline Assessment to evaluate how well current integrated network capabilities work in several operational scenarios, the Army said.

Like other NIE exercises, the Army will solicit soldier feedback on performance of the systems and where gaps exist, but NIE 15.1 will take a more deliberate approach that other evaluations. Past NIEs focused on accepting feedback and applying fixes quickly, so they could be readily applied in theater. But the move out of Afghanistan allows more time to assess any gaps in network capability and let vendors propose solutions, the Army said.

Reader Comments

Fri, Jan 24, 2014

>>"As we look to the future, we are going to transition ... into the future holistic training environment, live synthetic. What the army needs do is look into low-level science-fiction novels that offer blue-prints embedded in the narrative; then go out and hire a competent AR company to implement the scenarios. From the Lo-lev Sci-fi novel, Memories with Maya: Chapter 7 (edited for context) "Point taken,” he said. “So Satish showed me a demo of the Quad acquiring a real-time depth and texture map.” “Nothing new in that,” I said. “Yeah, but look above us.” I tilted my head up and saw the crude shape of the Quad. “The Quad is here, but you can't see it because the FishEye is on it, aimed straight ahead.” “So it's mapping video texture over the live geometry of everything within it's FOV in realtime - yes, even people." "Cool, A live synthetic environment?” I said. “Yeah, the breakthrough is, I can freeze a frame… freeze real life as it were; step out of the scene and study it.” “All you do is block the live world with the cross polarizers?” “Yeah,” he said. “It's a big deal for AYREE to be able to use such data-sets.” "Every one looks so real.” “You should see how cool it is when you're here in person with the Wizer on,” he said. “I'm here watching these real people pass by, only they have a geometry mesh of themselves, tracked and mapped onto them.” “Ahhh! Yes.” “Yeah, it's as if they have living paint on them. I feel like reaching out and touching, just to feel the texture.” Suggested companies who would fit the AR tools requirement put out by the Army's Sources Sought tender: Qualcomm Metaio Vuzix (Digital see-thru AR/tracking eye-wear)

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