The military sector is often at the forefront of the technology landscape. When it comes to defense and the armed forces, the government is happy to invest in new opportunities for growth. This includes exploring the benefits of augmented reality, or “AR.”
Even before Snapchat and Facebook started releasing filters for your pictures, and augmented reality apps were everywhere, the army was already implementing their own versions of augmented reality to help train and guide their troops. As warfare continues to evolve, the military sector needs to continue its investment into new technology all the time Future Battlefield.
In March 2021, The U.S. Army announced that Microsoft has won a contract to build custom HoloLens augmented reality headsets. The contract for over 120,000 headsets could be worth up to $21.88 billion over 10 years. The standard-issue HoloLens, which costs $3,500, enables people to see holograms overlaid over their actual environments and interact using hand and voice gestures.
It follows a $480 million contract Microsoft received to give the Army prototypes of the Integrated Visual Augmented System, or IVAS, in 2018. One of the features of IVAS is the ability to display a map, a compass and thermal imaging to reveal people in the dark. The system could also show the aim for a weapon.
“The IVAS headset, based on HoloLens and augmented by Microsoft Azure cloud services, delivers a platform that will keep soldiers safer and make them more effective,” Alex Kipman, a technical fellow at Microsoft and the person who introduced the HoloLens, wrote in a blog post. “The program delivers enhanced situational awareness, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios.” The headset enables soldiers to fight, rehearse and train in one system, the Army said in a statement.
Here’s your insight into the kind of impact that AR is having on the military sector.
Changing the Way Troops Train
Augmented reality is the intersection between digital and physical. It’s when technology is used to place digital elements in real-world spaces. And it’s not future tech — it’s happening right now. An advanced training simulator that leverages this technology is currently being developed by Magic Leap, Inc. It differs from virtual reality in that it brings the simulation into the real world, as opposed to putting real-world troops into the simulation. The current design is called HUD 3.0.
Troops place goggles over their heads as they step into a specially designed environment, similar to MOUT training grounds, that is linked to a central hub. The goggles then intelligently lay digital images over the real world. The program can then place simulated elements in the troop’s vision — like a digital terrorist appearing in a real window. The troop can then raise their training rifle that is synced with the program, pull the trigger, and watch simulated gunfire unfold as it would in actual combat.
The advantage this has over other types of simulations is that it isn’t limited to putting a single troop out there. In theory, an entire platoon could don sets of goggles and train together, getting an experience close to real combat while remaining completely safe.
Transforming the Armed Forces
One of the most obvious examples of the benefits of AR for military action comes in the form of Tactical Augmented Reality. This refers to the heads-up displays that troops can use in their headsets to get information about the battleground when they’re on the move. Crucial information can be superimposed onto visors for pilots to help them develop better situational awareness.
The US Army is also looking into night vision goggles that can offer soldiers more information about their exact location and where they are in relation to potential enemies.
Elsewhere, augmented, and virtual reality tools are opening the door to potential training opportunities for new recruits. Imagining a warfare scenario is nothing like being in actual combat. AR and VR offer a way for those who are preparing for the stress of the battle zone to really get ready for the experience.
Synthetic training environments help soldiers to build their training experiences in a more immersive way, placing them in more mentally stimulating environments, without putting them at risk. The right AR and VR technology can also work alongside sensors and artificial intelligence tools to help squad leaders to keep track of team performance, wellness, and more.
What Might the Future of AR in the Military Look Like?
Already, the potential of AR technology in the military is impressive – offering new ways for people to train and be more aware of their surroundings in a dangerous environment. However, going forward, companies are looking into ways to make the AR experience even more incredible. AR systems using cameras around the outside of a tank could potentially give people a full 360-degree view of their surroundings when they’re in battle – almost as if the tank itself was made out of glass.
AR headsets combined with artificial intelligence could help marksmen to get the perfect shot when they’re dealing with difficult odds or assist troops in finding the safest route back to base after they’ve crossed enemy lines. It could also make it easier for military personnel to carry out dangerous missions from a distance. Using an AR headset, an expert could pilot a drone into enemy territory and collect valuable information through video recordings to share with the team.
Through the right combination of new realities and technology, it may become easier for military groups to avoid sending individuals into potentially life-threatening situations. Even off the front lines, when it comes to building things like tanks and aircrafts, AR could help engineers to make faster decisions and produce crucial items much faster.
AR Will Transform Warfare
Augmented Reality has the power to transform the way that people approach warfare. With the right technology, users will be able to gain more operational and situational awareness and make better judgments about their situation.
Augmented reality can lead to better combat training experiences that are less costly, and more immersive, ensuring that troops are more prepared for real-life scenarios. It could even help with building more effective airplanes, tanks, trunks, and weaponry. The possibilities are potentially endless.
- Augmented Reality Will Change The Future Battlefield – https://www.xrtoday.com/augmented-reality/what-impact-is-ar-having-on-the-military-sector/
- The U.S. Army announced that Microsoft has won a contract to build more than custom HoloLens augmented reality headsets – https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/31/microsoft-wins-contract-to-make-modified-hololens-for-us-army.html
- Changing the Way Troops Train – https://www.wearethemighty.com/mighty-tactical/military-training-augmented-reality/