New Training Solution – At the Tip of Your Fingers

photo illus by AETC US AIR FORCE
Bob Vaugh (standing), with Flight Safety International, helps calibrate the controls of a flight simulator before Lt. Col. Jeremy Putman, 469th Flying Training Squadron commander, "takes to the skies" during a demonstration session in which leadership at the 80th Flying Training Wing donned the mixed reality headsets to try out the software. The 80th Flying Training Wing is doing its due diligence on the product to see if it can enhance training for student pilots going through the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program. (U.S. Air Force photo by John Ingle)

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Training and simulation in both the civilian and military realms use virtual reality (VR) in order to simulate realistic scenarios. 

Current VR headsets use tracked hand controllers with rudimentary haptic effects to provide touch feedback. Our sense of touch represents an incredibly hard technical problem to simulate in a fully believable fashion. Creating physical resistance across all 10 digits, for example, is a kind of holy grail in VR research. Mixed reality may be the solution.

ECS (Engineering & Computer Simulations), a military training and technology company, will develop haptics-based mixed reality training systems within the U.S. Army’s Synthetic Training Environment. The HaptX gloves are expected to increase the effectiveness of mixed reality training for military and civilian healthcare professionals.

The project will be developed in conjunction with the Defense Health Agency and includes a partnership with haptic glove company HaptX and the Mayo Clinic at the College of Medicine and Science in Florida.

“This type of haptics integration offers a sense of touch and natural interactions within various virtual, augmented, and mixed reality scenarios,” said Waymon Armstrong, ECS CEO and President. “When applied in a medical environment, this integration with TC3 will provide our Warfighters and healthcare professionals the tools that they need to improve their quality of training and retention to potentially save more lives.”

According to, the HaptX Gloves will be integrated into several areas of medical training in the Department of Defense, which aim to provide haptic feedback in training environments, as to reduce the need for “live tissue training.” The programs will use both augmented and virtual reality systems, with multi-user capabilities and training analytics and assessment tools.