While products like Google Glass tend to be the most publicized applications of augmented reality, uses of the technology extend far beyond niche consumer tech. To that end, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) has unveiled the Augmented Immersive Team Trainer (AITT), a system that aims to transform any location into a dynamic, cost-effective training ground for Marines.
The objective of the project is to provide simulation-based training for Marines that they can use anywhere, even if they’re in the field. It works by creating virtual images of aircraft, vehicles, people and other objects, and projecting them onto a real-world environment. The ONR sees it as a much-needed development of traditional range training.
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"Instead of going out to an old, stale range that has the same targets that people have been shooting at for the last 40 years, AITT provides a target-rich and dynamic environment for training without having to rely on external resources," said Marine Corp Capt. Jack Holloway of the ONR’s Expeditionary Manoeuvre Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department.
The system is able to accurately track where Marines are in the real world, while placing virtual objects in the environment, and keeping them in place throughout exercises. The versatility of the technology means that it could be used for a wide range of scenarios.
In its current state, Marines making use of AITT view the world through a head-mounted video camera, but the ONR plans to improve the technology involved, making the jump to optical see-through displays similar to those used on consumer-oriented devices like Google Glass. While the current setup works well for scenarios where Marines are stationary or moving slowly, it’s thought that a system wherein the virtual objects are projected directly onto the visor will allow for increased mobility.
AITT has been in development for some four years, but is still in the prototype stages. The ONR is currently working to integrate the system with existing Marine Corps’ tech, and plans to hand over development to the Marine Corps Systems Command and the Marine Corps Program Manager for Training Systems in Fall 2015 (Northern Hemisphere).