How the Army is Using Augmented Reality to Bolster Troop Readiness


By Debbie Gregory.

Synthetic Training Environment (STE) may sound like a futuristic approach to training, but the Army Research Laboratory, University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, Combined Arms Center-Training and Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation are currently working on making this a reality.

The immersive augmented reality system is designed to replicate the diverse operational environments that soldiers may find themselves in. STE converges the virtual, constructive, and gaming environments into a single-synthetic environment. For a generation of soldiers who grew up playing video games, STE may be easier for them to adapt to.

“Video game players are far superior to non-video game players in the ability to process things like field of vision, being able to hold digital objects in your memory,” said Ray Perez, program manager at the ONR’s Cognitive Science of Learning Program.

The STE provides intuitive, composable applications and services that enable embedded training with mission command workstations and select platforms.

“As the Army evolves with manned and unmanned teams and other revolutionary battlefield capabilities, STE will be flexible enough to train, rehearse missions and experiment with new organization and doctrine,” said Col. Harold Buhl, Army Research Lab Orlando and Information and Communications Technology program manager.

STE and virtual reality training save money, are safer for the trainees, and spare real field equipment through the use of simulators. STE will be cloud-based, making it accessible anywhere.

Although the STE is in the very early stages of conceptual design and definition, it may potentially revolutionize simulation training over the next 15 to 30 years.

The Synthetic Training Environment will bring science fiction into reality.

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