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The AR/VR defense market will be worth $1.79 billion by 2025, up from $511 million last year, according to a Research and Markets report. At that rate of growth, the military is one of the early sectors to fulfill the hype of commercial mixed reality. The reasons have to do with the growing cost efficiency AR/VR and the simultaneous difficulty of simulating combat realistically using tangible assets.
Over the last couple of years, the military has been deploying mixed reality technologies in training and on the battlefield. Soldiers have been learning urban combat techniques in so-called Synthetic Training Environments that accurately reflect foreign cities while tactical augmented reality has made its way into helmets and military vehicles. Satellite imagery, street view data, and other readily-available information about the globe rapidly generate these Synthetic Training Environments. Artificial intelligence renders the digital worlds, analyzes soldier performance, and introduces variability into the simulations.
Advances first made in gaming were adopted by the military. Zdnet.com brings as an example a software company named Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim) which uses game-based technology to develop low cost training and simulation software products. The products boast many of the same technical aspects you’d find in popular video games, such as “whole-earth rendering” and “pre-programmed AI behaviors.”
Their products include a gunship crew trainer for the U.S. Air Force and virtual parachute training, among other scenario-based modules.
Simulators have long played some role in military training, but the latest generation of VR headsets coupled with the advanced physics engines that power modern games have made the technology especially well suited to combat training.
“Where today’s high-end simulators rely on large and expensive display environments using domes and collimated displays,” says John Burwell, the company’s VP of Business Development, “next generation training systems will benefit from emerging VR and AR technologies that enable solutions that are orders of magnitude less expensive, provide higher fidelity, and offer a smaller footprint supporting training at the point of need.”
“Military AR/VR solutions are driven by specific requirements to meet training objectives. For example, high-resolution head mounted displays (HMD)s are needed to support flight training where pilots need to see fine detail at a distance. Today, these requirements are met with specialized hardware. “