Don’t confuse virtual reality with augmented reality. While virtual reality helps technicians prepare for service activities, augmented reality helps technicians during service activities by superimposing relevant information on the real world.
“Augmented” maintenance technicians can access all of the information needed to complete their tasks — plans, data sheets, instruction manuals — by simply scanning code associated with the equipment they’re working on.
Augmented reality, or AR, differs significantly from virtual reality in that, instead of immersing the user in a technologically imagined world, augmented reality users are viewing their real-world physical environment while objects are superimposed against it. Think “Pokémon GO” on overdrive.
This technology can be used by airborne pilots who can view synthetic images of anything from a moving adversary aircraft to a refueling tanker to surface ships.
Intricate cockpit simulators play a critical role in training today’s pilot, but ground-based simulator machinery can mimic only so many of the stresses produced by actual air-to-air combat.
Flying with AR, enables pilots to experience their real operational environments, all while the complex visor tracks not only the aircraft’s maneuvers, but the position and movement of the pilot’s head as well.
Using the latest advances in gaming technology, the new VR training platform aims to improve training for personnel by making it more realistic, intuitive and immersive.
Trainees can use the simulator and use intuitive gesture control designed to match real-world battlefield actions. This is coupled with HD surround sound and highly realistic visuals to bring to life training scenarios in VR.
Trainees will be able to hold a virtual ‘gun’ and crouch and crawl when necessary, just as they would on a real-life exercise. They will be able to practice this virtual exercise as many times as needed before going into the field for real, preparing them more effectively for operational deployments
Training is changing as the services pursue dynamic live, virtual, and mixed-reality training that offers data analysis supported by artificial intelligence and other smart systems.. Being able to take the data from your training to be analyzed for trend analysis and predictive analysis is going to be a game changer."
And all this data is being run through machine learning systems for trend and predictive analysis, producing a readiness score for essential tasks. Imagine soldiers training to fight augmented reality adversaries in virtual battle spaces, showdowns that like video games can take place in cities around the world.
The service is collecting data to reconstruct cities, mountainsides, bunkers and more to more accurately represent what soldiers will see in the virtual-reality environment. That poses a challenge, but service members must get an accurate representation of what they may face in combat.
Marines will be exposed to more realistic combat scenarios, "enabling units to enter live training at a much higher level of proficiency. The goal is to rely less on bulky hardware for simulations, and more on software and networks, including virtual reality goggles and iPads for streaming services.
While live training will always remain the standard against which Marine unit readiness is measured, even live training has its limits. It costs a lot of money to ship Marines out to Twentynine Palms or other areas. It costs money to fire munitions. Some of those munitions can’t be fired in most areas.
In the past, live training has been key to preparing personnel for their missions. However, staging a live training event can consume significant physical and fiscal resources, from aircraft, ground equipment and ships to all the personnel involved. Plus, the risk of accidents resulting in damage to equipment, or worse yet, endangering personnel, can increase.
That’s why the military started utilising virtual training to provide many of the same positive benefits while minimising the negative impacts of live training. These benefits, including personnel safety, readiness improvement and cost reduction, have led the military to take training a step further and utilise live, virtual and constructive training that brings together multiple systems using networking capabilities.
Live, virtual and constructive training allows personnel not physically present at a live training event to participate virtually and through constructive simulations that inject battlefield effects and simulated or constructed threats into live systems.
The Marines want simulators in which commanders can lead virtual troops.
Some of the advanced weapons can’t be demonstrated where just anyone can see them in action, thus revealing our tech to adversaries.
And that is where simulations can help bridge the gap.
But first, there’s a list of things that must come to fruition.
Identify and mitigate risks quickly: To keep up with evolving threats, an intent-based network can serve as both a sensor and enforcer of security policy, leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to move at machine speed and counter advanced threats. Networks can also provide the ability to rapidly reconfigure given changes in real-world conditions or across various training scenarios.
Much of that is going to be applications and bandwidth, basically getting better versions of terrains and simulations that are more realistic and can accommodate as much as a division’s worth of players and an equally complex, simulated adversary.
But some items are smaller and more hands-on, like better virtual reality and augmented reality headsets.
Those headsets are key since the Marines want them to work not as they do now, with pounds of cabling in bulky indoor shooting simulators but light with long-lasting batteries that can be taken in the field and on deployment.
Goggles that is about twice the weight of existing eye protection, perhaps with its power source somewhere on the body, is likely five to 10 years away based on his survey of the field.
There’s another an ongoing need: better drones.
But instead of longer flying, large-scale drones that can coordinate complex fires and sensors for the operational environment, simulations needs are smaller drones that can fly lower, giving Marines a street-level, detailed view of the battlespace.
Marines can create their own terrain maps and fight the simulated fight in the areas they’ll really be operating in.
And those video feeds that are now on every ISR platform in the real world? Simulations need them too, to be realistic. That means game designers have to have human-like activity going on in areas instead of some digital “blob” representing enemies.
That way, when a commander wants to zoom in on a tactical frame in the game, they’ll be able to do it just like in theater.
Which brings it to one of the more ambitious items beyond terrain and hardware: getting simulations to act more like humans.
As it works now, unit commanders set up their forces, work their mission sets and then the virtual “forces” collide and often a scripted scenario plays out.
Not too realistic.
What’s needed is simulations to act like populations might act in the real world and the same for the enemy, taking advantages, fighting and withdrawing.
But one step further is key: The enemy has to talk back.
When a commander finishes the fight, they should be able to query the virtual enemy and figure out why it did what it did, how it gained a certain advantage.
And it shouldn’t take a programmer to “talk” with the simulation. Units communicate via voice and chat. That’s how simulations users must be able to talk with their simulated civilians, allies and enemies, in plain language.
These pursuits are not happening in a vacuum. They were done at a battalion level with a short prep time, far different than the large-scale Marine Expeditionary Unit or Marine Expeditionary Brigade-sized training that is typical.
That is part of a larger effort to create a “plug-and-play” type of training module that any battalion, and later smaller units, can use at home station or on deployment to conduct complex, coordinated training.
What made that work new was pairing legacy systems with a variety of operating systems between them.
That’s another example of what needs to be fixed.
Marines and other services are, in many cases, using systems that were designed decades apart and creating a patchwork methods to get the hardware to work together when it wasn’t built for that type of operation.
The new systems must be open architecture so that new tech, new weapons and new terrain can be added on the fly. But also secure enough to operate across networks and not be spied upon by those who would want a peek at our tactics.
Across the infantry battalions Marines received new gear last year called Tactical Decision Kits. These allow for squad to company-sized elements to do video game-play for their unit exercises, complete with NFL-style replay of engagements and decisions.
That’s a low-level example of one thing that’s lacking in current training. Right now the main piece of tech for a Marine commander conducting an after action review is a pen and paper pad.
But with ISR drones, body cams and sensors, Marines in the near-term future should be able to monitor individual Marine’s energy and hydration levels, where they pointed their weapon, when they fired, how many rounds, if they hit their target, even where their eyes were looking while on patrol.
And, if on deployment, Marines can’t rely on a cadre of contractors back home to run their hardware. To that end, the Corps began two courses last year, the Simulation Professional Course and the Simulations Specialist Course.
Both give Marines in infantry units experience setting up simulations and running the games for their units. They input training objectives and can understand and put together training for the unit staff or just for their fire team back in the barracks.
The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab just finished a rapid capability assessment of a pair of goggles equipped with augmented reality that allow artillery maintainers to work on three-dimensional digital models of M777 155mm howitzers.
"I like it ... you can tell what's missing, what's broken, what's cracked. "It can't do much for me right now, but when I was back at the schoolhouse, this would have helped out a lot to actually see parts in the howitzer. I am a very visual person; looking at a schematic doesn't help me much."
"Within training, it runs the spectrum. It can be maintainer training, it can be infantry training, it can be gun-drill training. I was talking to some snipers earlier. This could be used on a sniper training range, where you have the snipers crawling through the grass trying to get within shot range and not be observed while they are doing so.
"Currently, how are they being observed -- through a telescope. You can augment that telescope, which uses the human eyeball, with the laser range finding that the goggles are capable of, to pick up variances in the terrain in order to better detect those snipers, which will make them better snipers because now they've got to beat technology.
Marine Corps and other services are focused on finding ways to use augmented reality in training.
"It seems unlikely that it's going to go away. We have Marine Corps Systems Command, interested in augmented reality ... and we have all been talking about these systems and what they are capable of."
There’s little question that virtual reality technology is ready for serious use in military training courses. In many cases, VR training has become the best and maybe the only way to accomplish many training objectives. How will you pilot your first VR training experience?
The benefits of virtual reality and augmented reality for maintenance include letting you train technicians before they get to customer sites while augmented reality helps technicians execute maintenance tasks. In both cases, the initial feedback about the value of these technologies is positive.
Military is starting to pay more attention to VR training. From traditional classroom environments to extreme training situations, VR reduces investment and increases enrichment across a range of industries. When it comes to absorbing, retaining, and applying new skills, VR delivers distinct advantages.
The are many benefits of using VR in training, and it is useful to describe exactly what alternate reality technologies encompass. The term Virtual Reality means recreating an experience through the use of tools specialized devices, whereas Augmented Reality is about combining digital information with our own environment. Unlike Virtual Reality, instead of "creating" a new learning experience it uses the existing surroundings.
Trainees won’t miss out on the realistic options as they can be immersed into the experience, as if it’s happening in real time.
VR provides the opportunity to experience situations that you wouldn’t be able to easily construct for training in a real-life situation which, ultimately, can test trainees at a progressive, higher level and a more difficult standard to include navigating tight corners, understanding the use of directional arrows and avoiding hazardous placement.
The multi-player capabilities also mean that they won’t miss out on the teamwork aspect of the work through coordinating with other operators. This allows simultaneous interactions amongst users, so that the trainee can work together as a crew in the virtual plant, preparing them for communicating their issues and needs to other workers or management.
Working at height using construction equipment and tools is particularly risky, and remains one of the biggest causes of disasters in the construction industry. Training in a VR environment removes that element of danger. In the future, likely we will be able to control the entire on-site process from VR.
This form of training also has the benefit of being quicker and easier to track. Rather than finding the time, travel, and resources to locate a free work site, this innovative model brings everything you need in one place. No inconvenience or disruption from the weather; you can do everything from a permanent site. VR training can be run over and over again with no additional incremental cost or trainee risk.
Use of virtual reality training allows an immersive and realistic experience where operators can prove their knowledge under pressure and get a real sense of what to do in a high risk situations. Playing out emergency procedures in real-time aids progressive learning for all members of the team, not just new starters. Being told what you have to do in emergencies using traditional techniques is nowhere near as informative as experiencing it through VR.
The realistic nature of the VR technology also means training is not limited; if anything, there are more options and choices through technological advancements, which will only continue to expand. The typical training scenario is surrounded by distractions. The virtual environment shuts out the world, allowing them to concentrate on the task at hand. They are more likely to pick up all the relevant information they need without worrying about the people around them.
1. Virtual Reality Training Gives Trainers Better Evaluation Tools
We previously mentioned the challenges of evaluating trainees and even the training itself. These challenges are particularly acute in construction training. In many of the construction safety training programs used today, trainers are struggling to evaluate trainees under less than ideal circumstances. Trainers are either assessing from a safe, but obscured vantage point, or struggling to evaluate from the same precarious positions like extreme heights, narrow spaces, unstable platforms.
In contrast, a training environment constructed with virtual reality tools can put trainers in the best possible position to observe and evaluate their trainees. Besides, the tools can also capture data points that help analyze why trainees are experiencing success and failure.. Another benefit to evaluating training in virtual reality is the simplicity of collecting and analyzing data – no more clipboards and tally sheets.
2. VR Training Supports Better Retention
Because it’s so realistic, VR training is likely to stay in trainees’ minds and muscle memories for a long time. Whereas people are apt to forget something they heard, read or even watched on a screen, when they have a direct experience, it stays with them longer.
3. Risk Free Training
One of the biggest issues faced by practical training is the large risk initiated by putting the trainees in a new and uncontrolled environment for example a machine in factory and maintenance trainings. The virtual reality simulations neutralise this risk while keeping the same training features, by creating the same environment virtually and putting the trainees inside without having to worry about the risk.
4. Realistic Scenarios
The simulations are built based on real-life operations and manipulations needed in after training situations. For example trainers are building simulations that imitate with high precision the situations that encounters maintainers in the field
5. Can Be Done Remotely
With VR simulations, the training no longer need a trainer in place to guide and give instructions to trainees. The content can be put in a platform that gathers all the simulations and give users access to the right content. Platforms enable the trainers to track their trainees performances through a dashboard using data analysis and data visualization techniques.
6. Improves retention and recall
The main purpose of a training and what really differentiate it from traditional learning is building a muscle memory. The mere observation of a skill cannot be sufficient to acquire that skill, especially when the training is about maintenance skills, or high precision manipulations. VR trainings solves this problem by enabling trainees to use their hands to manipulate anything inside the simulation. This can be done either by controllers or by VR gloves.
7. Simplifies complex problems/situations
Virtual Reality simulations are built in such a way to simplify the most complex notions and situations that cannot be understood with traditional training. It enables the trainees to discover the tiny details in a system to study without the constraints that can be encountered in real training sessions.
8. Suitable for different learning styles
When doing a training with virtual reality, the trainee will have all the freedom to test anything in the simulation in order to build an in depth understanding according to their own learning style. Platform provides a recommendation system based on machine learning, to suggest contents based on user’s data and previous simulations results. Training is easier if the experience is innovative and practical which means higher level of engagement and understanding.
9. Improve Trainee Performance
Because virtual reality simulates the real-world, students get hands-on and the opportunity for nearly unlimited practice repetitions, allowing for a process that steadily improves performance. Unlike traditional classroom or even video training, VR training ensures that when employees encounter training scenarios in the field, they will have practiced that skill or protocol over and over, to perfection, with any number of situational variables at play
10. Easy Access
Virtual reality lets everyone have an equal share of education so to say, in this context. Education is not a stigma anymore thanks to VR. There are workers who face limitations in accessing education because of various reasons like distance. VR eliminates those boundaries; It enables an easy start with any lesson. Everything is already set and easy to be moved if necessary. VR is more than welcome when it comes to supporting distance education. This way, the worker gets a real and full experience of being in a realistic environment instead of sitting in front of a computer or by video chatting.