Role of Augmented Reality (AR) in Defence
The world has witnessed one of the deadliest pandemics in the history of humanity. One thing that has become normal this time is social distancing. Distance has become a part of almost every field. Training and learning activities are no different, as we are discussing the defense industry here. Let us tell you that distance learning is nothing new to the defense industry.
Over the years, the use of virtual and augmented reality has increased in defense training. Most importantly, the use of these methods has evolved. Defense training has become more input-driven, and defense personnel is now acknowledged combatting enemy territories in an immersive learning environment.
You may or may not be familiar with the term augmented reality. The term was coined in 1990 by a computer research employee named Thomas Caudell. For the first time in 1998, sports broadcasters first put augmented reality into use. Back then, hosts used this technology to make the yellow marker during football games. Nowadays, several technologies are used in defense training, the healthcare industry, the tourism industry, and marketing and public safety. In an immersive training environment, people will find themselves in a responsive 3D setting that prepares them for the real battlefield. Today, augmented reality is changing the landscape of defense training, and is for good.
What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
Augmented reality is a digital representation of the physical world around you. An enhanced natural world is created in real-time using several visual elements, sound, and other sensory stimuli. Several industrial sectors are using AR for their advantages. Alongside that, AR has become an integral part of defense training over the years.
The basis of Augmented reality formation takes place with the help of the collected data from the surroundings. The collected data is analyzed, and then, according to the needs, specific features are highlighted by the creators. In some cases, design enhancement takes place to offer a better understanding of that particular scenario. Overall with the help of AR, it becomes easier to get intelligent solutions, and military personnel can use the data insight to solve real-world problems. AR indirectly helps in decision-making.
A user gets additional information using AR. We can say that AR is a perfect conglomeration of digital components of the natural world and 3D elements from a personal perspective. The digital information generated with the help of the device integrated with AR alters the view of the person using it in the real world. The information that gets overlaid can mask the natural environment and the components around the user.
In the case of defense training, AR is becoming ubiquitous. There is a wide range of applications of AR in military training and this is the reason why it is gaining popularity in multiple sectors.
Use of Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality in Defense Training
Now, it’s time to tell you about one more type of technological advancement: mixed reality. Mixed reality (MR) is nothing but a conglomeration of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). At present, both these technologies are getting used extensively for generating situational awareness among trainee soldiers. Moreover, before putting a soldier in the firing line, AR-integrated devices can help to get them the much-needed realistic experience. The AR or MR system can generate a synthetic training environment to help military training.
AR systems are capable of generating visual scenarios which are almost accurate compared to the real world. When soldiers get in these physically almost real scenarios, they gain much-needed exposure to the actual battlefield without being present at a real location. Depending on the service requirements, the service head will create diverse, immersive scenarios with the help of both AR and MR. We can not only reduce the number of casualties with the help of AR and MR-enabled devices, but a military force can reduce the workforce used every year as instructors to train future soldiers.
A user can attach almost anything, and everything to the world generated using AR. Enhanced visual data provident makes the AR and MR integrated devices unique. Irrespective of the situation’s difficulty, one can create that real-world scenario in the virtual world. With the help of this technological advancement, military forces can create environments such as deep forests, snowy mountain warzones, and opponent hideouts. Due to the recent improvement, now defense forces can plan a complete tactical mission in collaboration with others.
In the defense industry, soldiers must learn to drive or fly army vehicles without errors. MR can provide the much-required assistance to the people receiving training on how to drive ground vehicles, fly an army aircraft, or operate a submarine. There is no need to get into an actual car to finish the training period. AR can mimic a vehicle’s natural motions adequately, offering practicing troops an authentic battlefield experience. Under different scenarios, military forces use the derived data from these MR-integrated devices to customize the training procedure of the soldiers.
How Augmented Reality is Different From Virtual Reality
People often need clarification on augmented reality and virtual reality. In general, Augmented reality (AR) puts valuable virtual inputs in the collected data from the real-world environment. AR can also work on an artificially created world, a copy of the physical world around us. On the contrary, if we talk about virtual reality (VR), the user will get transported to a whole new environment, which will be nothing similar to our natural world. The basis of the virtual world the user experiences in VR is computer-rendered images. In VR, the user will get immersed in a digital world but not in real time.
With the help of virtual software, the environment gets generated in the case of VR. While using VR, users start considering the virtual world as their actual surroundings. In most cases, the person experiencing VR gets the experience with the help of a headset and devices that provide sight. In VR, the visual rendering is required, which is not the case for AR. AR takes their user in some mixed reality. As we have mentioned earlier, to create VR, headsets are necessary, and the headset is placed over the head to generate the audio-visual information. But in the case of AR, the technology is a bit less invasive. In AR, devices like glasses, projectors, and phones are used.
In AR, the user can add perceptual information on top of the real-world environment, which is impossible in VR. The natural environment gets visually changed in the case of AR. Last but not least, people find themselves in a 3D environment, in the case of VR, where they can roam around and interact. However, in AR, a layer of virtual information is put over the real-world environment to offer the user a more grounded experience.
How the Use of Augmented Reality is Changing the Landscape of Defense Training
Although AR and VR are different from each other, both are equally used in defense training. The warfare landscape is changing drastically, and there are two primary ways AR gets used in defense training. The first one is for the exercise of military personnel. It is also used to check the efficiency of military equipment, vehicles, and other gadgets.
Military forces trainers can experience a realistic-looking replica of the natural world with the help of AR. Soldiers can safely practice in the digital replication of complex environments. Soldiers can learn how to combat enemy soldiers in varied conditions, such as in the presence of civilians, in different weathers, and at other times of the day. Moreover, with AR-integrated devices, the soldiers will get accustomed to how to deal with high-pressure situations, which usually develop in hostile environments.
AR can work as a bridge between classroom learning and traditional simulations. The conventional methods of simulations are somewhat expensive. They are limited, but on the contrary, AR can do all that without limitations. It is also cheaper than the traditional simulation methods, as this is a one-time investment. The primary use of the AR-based simulations is to familiarize trainee soldiers with the equipment they will use. There are parts in a country’s defense sector, such as the Airforce and Navy, where the need for AR is increasing because of the complexity. Besides that, with the introduction of AR in the defense industry, future naval officers and aircraft pilots can get familiar with the complex equipment they are about to handle at the end of the training period.
Medical military personnel should always remain updated due to the rising challenges. Military medical personnel’s skill sets should change depending on the surrounding environment. Medical professionals in the military should be able to apply their knowledge in casualty trauma care. Augmented reality can offer both effective and practical training to military medical professionals. The introduction of AR in the healthcare sector has changed the face of the healthcare industry. The introduction of AR in military training can help medical personnel sharpen their skills in a safe environment without fear of losing a life. AR can successfully replicate stressful realistic, looking warzones. With integrated AR devices, military medical professionals can treat life-threatening injuries such as severe burns and loss of limbs. They must make split-second decisions in the warzone without hesitation, so they must practice hard enough to ensure accuracy as human lives depend on it.
Also, the defense systems of various countries are changing with the introduction and integration of AR.
Applications of Augmented Reality in Defence Training
Now that AR is changing the defense sector for good, it is time to talk about the applications of augmented reality in different types of defense training.
- Use of AR in Defense Training
Every person getting into the military has to go through an intensive training period. Without proper training and guidance, a soldier cannot serve their country. For the first time when AR was used in the military, it was for training purposes. To make soldiers ready for a fight, AR used to train them. Countries from around the world are using AR devices for army training purposes. An enabled wearable device presents the soldiers with the vision of a battlefield or an enemy hideout. Trainee soldiers can then finish their training while staying safe without getting deployed on an actual battlefield. Several defense agency suppliers are producing such wearable devices at a large scale as the demand for such products increases yearly. Nowadays, we can see the use of augmented reality integrated devices in almost all countries with large military forces, from India to the USA.
- To Fly Unmanned Aircraft
Nowadays, drones have become pretty standard, and militaries worldwide are using drones for various purposes. The drone is nothing but an uncrewed aerial vehicle. From the ground, a person can operate the drone without help from a human pilot. For different kinds of military operations, military forces are using drones. Drones of various types have been proven valuable assets for defense services. Drone technology is used primarily for surveillance purposes, and the help of AR software is taken to get better surveillance. With the help of the software, military personnel can get real-time data without being present at the scene. Drones, having integrated AR technology, have the potential to recognize objects from a distance. Alongside that, these drones are capable of tracking human beings. The primary purpose of surveillance in the military is to identify suspicious movements close to or in enemy territory. Data derived from the drone and the images captured by the attached camera can help the service mark the enemy out there without putting human resources at risk. The marking is very similar to the markers you can spot on google maps.
- To Help Pilots
A pilot must undergo rigorous training before flying an actual military aircraft. Aircraft that are used for military purposes is costly. Several cases of accidents while aircraft training have been reported over the years. The pilot needs to train in a safe environment to avoid unfortunate circumstances. A mixture of AR and VR gets used in training, so it is safe to call it a mixed reality. The 3D overlay that pilots get during their training period is designed with the help of AR. This overlay consists of almost everything. A training pilot can communicate with the air traffic control and experience all the possible weather conditions.
Most importantly, they visualize the whole navigation system without even sitting in an actual military aircraft. AR plays a significant role in offering a better understanding of landing and take-offs to these trainee pilots. Not only the pilots but the ground maintenance crew can get benefitted from the use of AR. Besides these, there are two more complex tasks that a military aircraft pilot needs to complete perfectly: mid-air refueling and forming formations with other aircraft mid-air. AR changes the overall pilot training system for good by offering pilots these advanced maneuvers, which will, in turn, enhance efficiency and operability.
- Usage of AR in the Navy
The Navy is one of the integral parts of any country’s defense system, and the requirements of this branch of defense are also more than others like the air force and military. Augmented reality is helping them a lot in training and combating enemies. An example will make it easier for you to understand. One of the most challenging jobs in the Navy is the job of a bridge officer. A bridge officer has to keep a ship safe from any danger. To do that, the bridge officers collect information via radio and have to depend on what they physically see. Physical eyesight can often result in inefficiency. With the help of AR-integrated devices, a bridge officer can now get all the necessary information efficiently in real-time. Collecting valuable data without any error helps keep the ships safe at sea and indirectly reduces the workload of a naval bridge officer. Nowadays, deck gunnery teams are also extensively using AR-based technological devices. Data generated by different sensors like sonars and radars are blended with real-world visuals to offer an immersive experience. This technology gives the naval officers a better understanding of the surroundings.
Is Augmented Reality the Key to the Future in Defense Training?
Augmented reality is not a futuristic thing anymore. Nowadays, it is present almost anywhere and everywhere. There is a world beyond video games and science fiction movies where AR has found its use. AR possesses the enormous potential and is captivating in the market where VR is slightly tapped. AR is capable of providing large amounts of simulation with the help of cutting-edge multisensory and immersive technology. Over the last few years, the defense industry has heavily depended on AR, VR, and MR. They are collectively reshaping the defense industry and are taking it to another level.
From the very beginning, AR can help the defense forces. It starts with training the soldiers, which is probably the most critical aspect of building a military. Additionally, tactical strategies are forming nowadays with AR. All these are happening because of the always-increasing complexities of the war zones.
AR is strengthening the defense industry. Military forces of a country can use war concepts like warfare simulations, warzone visualizations, the creation of augmented tactical reality, digital twins, spatial orientation, situational awareness, weapons targeting, digital terrain, and many more. The need to adapt to technological advancements has also increased simultaneously with the increasing socio-political threats. Adversities are nothing new to military personnel. It is high time to ensure they have all the skills and abilities to face these challenges head-on but effectively. It is not possible for AR to completely replace the need for traditional military training techniques, as there is no substitute for real emotions and human feelings. However, the training exercises provide high-end stimulations to a trainee soldier is unparalleled. A soldier’s experience during his training period in the real world can help them perform at the highest level with accuracy. But one thing for sure is that AR is here to stay, and probably the dependency on this technology will increase more in the coming years.
There are several reasons why the military is complying with Augmented reality. AR, along with VR and MR, is changing the outlook of the defense sectors of a country. To compete with each other and, most importantly, to stay ahead of other enemy forces, AR is getting used from training to strategy development. The demand for the use of AR will be around for a while.