Are video games the future of military training?
The Army is serious about gamification, now that the technology is affordable and the simulations are good enough to produce meaningful outcomes in training. Northrop Grumman’s Virtual Immersive Portable Environment (VIPE) Holodeck, for example, uses Microsoft’s Kinect motion sensor to put soldiers in near-real-life situations. Its capabilities include:
- Affordable immersive training at all levels (crawl-walk-run)
- Realistic cues, indicators and distracters to enhance situational awareness, improve predictive reasoning and reinforce correct decision making
- Nonkinetic and kinetic team training
- Cultural and language training
- Support for ground, air and remote platform training
As technology evolves, so do the threats that soldiers face. By leveraging gaming technology, the military, limited only by imagination, can expose soldiers to a broad array of training challenges. Instructors can present those challenges — everything from subtle clues to simulated improvised explosive devices — as trainees navigate actual terrain or urban areas where future missions could take place.
Allen McDuffee detailed the technology in a recent Wired article:
Using commercial, off-the-shelf hardware combined with gaming technology, the VIPE Holodeck 360 degree virtual training system provides users with a high-fidelity immersive environment with a variety of mission-centric applications, including simulation and training, mission rehearsal and data visualization. The VIPE Holodeck can support live, virtual and constructive simulation and training exercises including team training, cultural and language training and support for ground, air and remote platform training. Off-the-shelf technology keeps costs down while also making future upgrades and maintenance easy to perform and affordable, says Northrop.
Last year, the VIPE Holodeck took first place in the Federal Virtual Challenge for the navigation category, an annual competition led by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory’s Simulation and Training Technology Center, for the system’s Kinect integration navigation sensor, which gives users the ability to crawl, walk, run, stop, jump, move side to side in the immersive environment.
Where the VIPE Holodeck moves ahead of other virtual simulators, according to Northrop, is advanced situational training where service members can walk through an area of operation in the replicated virtual environment to prepare themselves for what they may encounter in that exact environment in reality. To enhance that training, operators can drop threats into the environment, including IEDs and enemy shooters, as well as signals that should tip them off to potential threats and see how they respond before they actually find themselves in that situation.
Read the full article here, and check out the video below.