When it comes to defence and the military, every advantage matters. We live in a technological age where the most effective military is not one with the most soldiers, but the best technology. And the best technology right now is Augmented Reality (AR) in defence.
The US military has already begun employing AR technology in its training cycles, most notably during an Infantry Officer Course in Quantico last year.
Young Marines got to test out a new AR-based system known as the Augmented Immersive Team Trainer (AITT). It’s a system that trains troops in calling in airstrikes and artillery barrages.
Traditionally, this form of training is difficult to conduct. Munitions and targets can only be used once and aircraft and artillery barges are prohibitively expensive, and often unavailable during these training cycles.
However, the AITT proved extremely beneficial in this regard. The expensive components such as aircraft, bombs and their resulting explosions, could be digitally created and overlaid on a real-world training battlefield.
These elements would of course be required to behave realistically, a fairly easy task. There was no need to worry about limited munitions, unavailable jets or single-use targets.
The added bonus is that unlike virtual reality, augmented reality in defence allowed troops to go through the actual physical motions of training. Soldiers require actual walls and stairs, real world obstacles to build up muscle memory.
Another advantage of augmented reality in military training systems is its mobility. Current USMC training requires Marines to go to a specific location and often requires the use of significant contractor support. With AR-based training systems however, these devices can be move around easily and the set up is usually far less complicated.
The reason why virtual reality falls short is that it takes away from the real world battlefield. It’s great for a fighter pilot in a cockpit simulator, as he essentially deals with buttons, joysticks and screens. He himself is static while it is his vehicle that moves in space.
Thus, apart from the massive G-forces, this is fairly easy to simulate through VR.
Also, similar technology such as Google Glass can sometimes be more of an impediment than an asset.
It is essentially another screen, just much closer to the eye of the soldier. There is still a cognitive load and time lag when a soldier shifts his attention to the screen. He will then need to mentally processes that information in relation to his real world situation. Augmented reality in defence does the processing for you. The information overlayed in an understandable format. In other words, you simply ‘see it as it is’.