Quantum 3D has a new version of its Expedition DI virtual reality (VR) simulation (the last one came out last year) which has been created to train Infantry teams to deal with tricky situations, as experienced by combat troops currently in the field. The new solution features a wearable computer that attaches to a tactical vest, along with a new 1280×1024 HMD (head mounted display) that serves as a windows to the virtual environment.
The final element carried by soldiers is the weapon, a standard M4 carbine which is equipped with sensors and instrumentation to let the simulation know where it is pointed at and what trigger is being depressed. Other sensors, like “posture sensors” are part of the mix to detect if soldiers adopt the proper position when needed. The overall goal of this setup is not to train soldiers to be more “lethal” (at least not directly), but to immerse them many “hot” situations to improve their reaction time and quality of response, in real combat.
Given that many casualties happen during the first three months of deployment, it is clear that training for a tricky situation may save one’s life by increasing the reaction time, and responding with the appropriate tactics. In some ways, Expedition DI is like repository of the tactical knowledge for certain situation. The system has been designed so that soldiers don’t need to learn much to use the simulator.
In the past, similar programs have been created to achieve such goals, but with technological advance, it is now possible to train a entire team/squad, which takes things a step closer to reality, given that in the field, they work as a team. It may also expose tactical flaws that would not be obvious otherwise.
While this may seem like the “ultimate FPS shooter”, it’s not. Instead, I tend to think of it is more like a “situation”, or “scenario” simulator, rather than a pure “combat/shooting” simulator. Although the rendering seems decent for this type of app, it looks remotely as good as the latest games like Battlefield 3 – even if Expedition DI has benefited from hardware upgrades to the latest processors, and graphics processors.
Of course, while this is not a replacement for real-world simulations, it is still infinitely better than no having any readiness at all. While it would be more “realistic” to create a small town and blow it up, the cost of doing makes it impossible to train large number of troops about to be deployed. It’s also very difficult and expensive to review and “replay” an exercise. Getting training done in a VR environment is obviously much more cost efficient. Do you think that VR would be “good enough” one day for most troops, with the exception of the elite commandos?