Soldiers who enlist in the US military have been engaged in rigorous training exercises for months, if not years.
This training ensures that they fully understand how to use the tools they need, how to handle complex and difficult situations, and how they can protect themselves and others in life and death situations. There is no doubt that Army soldiers are highly prepared before they receive their assignments.
Training protocols are constantly evolving to ensure soldiers are experts in their field and fully aware of their missions. The technology has long been used in training, and one of the latest advancements in technology – virtual reality (VR) – is increasingly common in this branch of the military. Training is continuous throughout a soldier’s enlistment; it doesn’t stop once a soldier is deployed. Generals and other training officers want to make sure their squads are always fully aware of the surroundings and potential situations they might encounter throughout their tenure in the military. Virtual reality offers the possibility of modifying the different situations that soldiers might experience so that they are extremely competent and confident in their abilities when deployed. In other words, virtual reality can ensure that members of the military are fully prepared for combat.
In an effort to enhance immersive training, the U.S. military has awarded Microsoft contracts for $ 480 million, which will be used to create prototypes of AR programs that can be used in training. These programs will improve the operational capability of combatants to help reduce costs and achieve better optimized results for all troops in the group.
How augmented reality and virtual reality can be used by agencies
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have really caught the attention of consumers. This is evidenced by the number of virtual reality headsets that are now available to consumers and at affordable prices. This is also demonstrated by the various organizations that are developing and implementing new methods of using augmented reality on portable devices, such as smartphones and tablets; Pokemon GO is the perfect example.
Long before the average consumer had access to virtual reality and augmented reality, however, government agencies were using these types of immersive technologies. In fact, it was only really used for extremely specialized reasons, such as training soldiers in the military. For example, soldiers use virtual reality glasses to teach them how to handle combat in different areas, including how to effectively load weapons when in the middle of a strike.
The US military has a long history of using virtual training environments. However, they also realized that they needed a more advanced virtual reality training experience; one that would allow them to reconfigure the settings so that soldiers can train in virtually any location. In an effort to achieve this, training specialists began speaking with tech companies to determine what type of VR and AR products are already available and whether or not they could meet those needs; or if the products that were already available could be changed in any way so that they could offer more options for training purposes. This is where the recent contract awarded to Microsoft comes in. The company is set to develop 2,550 VR / AR prototypes for the Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System. If these prototypes are successful, the military could potentially purchase up to 100,000 more. Initially, the deadline to complete the project was between 2025 and 2030; However, considering that there have been such extreme advancements in the technologies used for AR and VR, it is believed that prototypes will be available much sooner.
Government’s use of virtual reality and augmented reality is also expected to expand
In addition to the increased use of virtual reality and augmented reality by the US military, it is also expected that the use of other entities within the US government will increase.
Last year, for example, federal, state and local governments invested around $ 326 million in virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. By the end of 2021, it is estimated that the total amount that will be invested in this type of technology will exceed 9.2 billion dollars; it’s a very clear increase in the use of immersive technologies, like AR and VR, by the government.
The government is expected to use these technologies in a myriad of ways; for example, it can be used for training, for interactive meetings, and even to transport individuals to different locations so that they can see things that they would otherwise never have the opportunity to experience in real life. National parks, for example, could use AR / VR technology to illustrate different locations in meaningful ways. While technology will never replace the actual visit to one of the parks, it can be a powerful means of letting the public – and other government agencies – know how important it is to preserve these sites; especially if they have never been to the scene themselves.
Virtual reality and augmented reality can also be used to allow people to experience historic places. For example, the American Battle Monuments Commission has developed a smartphone application that allows users to take a virtual tour of the Normand American Center, located next to Omaha Beach and Utah Beach in northern France. The beaches of Omaha and Utah are the sites of one of the most crucial battles of WWII, the D-Day invasion. The Normandy American Center is the resting place of more than 9,380 American soldiers dead during this battle. By giving people the opportunity to virtually visit the sacred historic site, when they otherwise might not experience it at all, it is hoped that the significance of the site and the impact of the D-Day invasion on the history of the United States and the world, will be preserved and never forgotten; something that is especially important in these difficult political times.
Virtual reality: the wave of the future that is here!
Virtual reality and augmented reality were once considered the wave of the future; however, given the significant technological advancements and the number of agencies using this technology, it is safe to say that the wave has arrived!