SEA is leading a research programme for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) into the use of Augmented Reality (AR) technologies for improved decision support, training and other applications.
AR has been defined as:
“A live direct or indirect experience of a physical real world environment whose elements are augmented by supplementary information”.
It is important to note that AR involves augmentation of the real world (i.e. it is not a simulation), and the technology covers a range of senses including visual, auditory and haptic (touch or tactile). AR is often used to provide spatial information (e.g. Where is the closest object/person/feature of interest?), but has much wider utility to pre-compile and display information, allowing much greater utility and understanding of the information by the user.
A number of the identified AR application areas align closely with existing SEA capabilities. Based on this, we have been able to bring together existing knowledge and the AR expertise to deliver the informed use of AR to enhance the capabilities in these areas.
Specific areas where AR can provide improvements
AR can provide improvements in capability include:
- Remote Skilling
- Access to Information Systems
AR to Support Training
AR has many opportunities to enhance the provision of training. Examples that have been considered include:
- Synthetic augmentation of live training
- AR visualisation of complex information
AR provides the means to combine the synthetic environment with the live environment thus providing the opportunity to gain the benefits of each:
- A synthetic environment provides benefits in cost, safety and controllability
- A live environment provide the realism, immersion and “friction” that is difficult or impossible to recreate synthetically
Live training can be augmented through the injection of synthetic entities or weapon effects. These can be injected through a combination of visual, auditory and/or haptic stimuli providing a truly immersive experience.
AR provides a means to pre-compile information and present it to the user in ways that can be more easily assimilated whilst also providing the means to allow users to interact with it either individually or collaboratively. In this way AR provides the opportunity for novel approach to learning and training.
AR for Remote Skilling & Maintenance
Many tasks such as the maintenance and repair of equipment require significant skill and knowledge. Often this knowledge needs to be applied whilst physically working with the equipment in question.
AR provides a means to present this information in a hands free method e.g. through a head mounted display whilst still allowing the user to carry out their normal activities. Information can be tied to the task in hand and the information presented could be overlaid onto the equipment being worked on.
AR Interface to Information Systems
Information systems provide access to significant amounts of information much of it often having a location element. However the ability to access that information is often limited by how it is presented through normal means.
AR provides an effective means to present spatial information based on the location of the user. Thus a user can easily see where different assets are located just be looking.