How AR and VR technology could help the future of British forces and how they train
Providing an opportunity to replicate the real world and real-life scenarios, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have become popular consumer and commercial technologies over recent years. From providing life-saving assistance in the medical sector, to improving complex assembly processes in our manufacturing industry, there’s no doubting the benefits this technology offers.
One group that doesn’t always shout about its employment of the latest technology is the British Armed Forces. So you might be interested to about how AR and VR are making a huge impact in the security and military services.
In our latest blog, we’re exploring how effective these technologies have become and the advantages they’re providing to the British Armed forces.
What is the difference between augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)?
Augmented Reality (AR) is an interactive experience which places computer-generated objects into the real-life environment surrounding the user. AR is experienced through a device with a lens, typically glasses or a smartphone with a camera. It uses sensors and algorithms to determine the position of the lens to place the 3D artificial objects so that they appear in the user’s real environment.
On the other hand, Virtual Reality (VR) uses computer technology to create a simulated environment around the user. VR uses a head-mounted display (HMD) which blocks out their real surroundings so that they are immersed in the virtual environment, such as an artificial world.
The development of AR and VR for training our British Armed Forces
Developers have been rapidly advancing VR and AR over recent years and have created different ways for it to function, depending on what is required, for instance training and improving emergency response teams and military operations.
Through viewing devices and HMDs, a trainee can experience a simulated battlefield or terror scenario to replicate a real-life incident, in preparation for the actual event. This method of training has been developed for the purpose of training British Armed Forces, as well as police, security personnel, paramedics and other first responders. In light of the increase in terror attacks, AR and VR training methods have revolutionised the way in which we prevent and respond to terror threats.
Whether the mission is to evacuate an airport due to a terror threat, or rescue civilians from a burning building, AR and VR technology has the ability to recreate these scenarios within a virtual, augmented or mixed reality environment, for the purpose of training counter-terrorism officers, aid workers or troops.
The AUGGMED project
The AUGGMED (Automated Serious Game Scenario Generator for Mixed Reality Training) project has developed an online multi-user training platform for joint first responder and counter-terrorism training. The virtual reality training allows trainees to carry out missions within artificial reconstructions of the real world, while interacting with virtual civilians and terrorists. Alternatively, augmented reality training enables trainees to see and interact with virtual terrorists and civilians that have been computer-generated to appear in the trainee’s real world.
Both AR and VR training methods have helped improve a ‘player’s’ emotional management, analytical thinking, problem solving and decision making skills, and have helped shape a far more meaningful experience of performing and completing missions within stressful situations.
As an example, in March 2018, the AUGGMED platform was used by security offices with the Piraeus Port Authority in Greece, to train for a terror-related incident. Using AR, the trainees in Piraeus worked alongside others based in another location, but all experienced the same scenario through VR.
AUGGMED includes different modes from singular training to co-operative team-based training and can alter the level of immersion and engagement through different virtual or augmented environments. The platform also includes tools to provide real-time feedback, as well as evaluate the performance of the trainee based on their mission and learning objectives.
The Future of AR, VR and mixed reality training
The military and aviation sectors have been using AR and VR technology for a considerable time already; however, as the technology becomes more established, their uses and associated benefits in learning and development become ever more apparent. Not only are military, first responders and counter-terrorism units harnessing the technology to great effect already, but other more varied sectors, such as construction and even food safety are also exploring AR and VR as a training solution.