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Published: Jun 23, 2017
Updated: Jun 23, 2017

How Virtual and Augmented Reality Are Changing Our Military

Author: Christy Roland

It’s the kind of technology that high-budget Hollywood movies have portrayed for years: Soldiers being deployed with digital visors that show Minority Report-like renders, ranging from location information, to mission details and even those (both friend and foe) in their immediate radius. Maintenance teams quickly being able to get critical machinery back up and running after a failure, even without specialized training. Even preparing the men and women of our armed forces with immersive training that revolutionizes the way they can experience and prepare for an imminent deployment.

This type of technology is not only possible — it’s here and ready, and Gravity Jack is excited to share it with the world at the AT&T SHAPE conference, on July 14-15 at Warner Bros. Studios.

While it may sound like science fiction to those removed, applications like this and more are possible thanks to augmented and virtual reality technologies. With respected investment firms and massive commercial sector names (including Apple, Google, Facebook and others) buying into the vast impact that augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology is expected to have, you may be surprised to discover just how soon it’s anticipated to become second nature.

Understanding Augmented and Virtual Reality

In order to truly understand the impact that these technologies can have, you must first understand the differences between augmented and virtual reality technologies.

Reality, as we know it, involves the experience of the authentic sensory details that are around us. The real world lighting conditions, sights, sounds, the way things feel, the breeze, etc. These, we consider to be true reality.

On the complete other side of the spectrum, you have experiences that are fully immersive and — for lack of a better word — fake. This is called virtual reality. Generally speaking, the reality is fully imposed on a user, immersing you in sights, sounds and, sometimes, scents, texture, and more. None of which are true reality, but are rendered using 3D technology. Some examples of this include Oculus Rift, Vive, Daydream, and other immersive VR platforms that have recently risen to the forefront of cutting-edge experiences.

Finally, in the middle of the mixed reality spectrum, you have augmented reality. AR allows a user to experience true reality, just as you normally would, but with digital information integrated seamlessly into the scene. Imagine it as the digital yellow line depicting the first down marker on a televised football game, but far more impactful. This information can be 3D models of objects, characters, games, and more. Or, in the case of our military and defense verticals, it can be mission critical information, working to ensure our servicemen and women have the information they need at precisely the right time. Ultimately, the purpose of using this technology is to save lives.

Augmented Reality in the Military

Equipping the brave members of our military with life-saving technology is something that we here at Gravity Jack take incredibly seriously. It’s something we’re passionate about. It’s part of why we created Adroit AR, an all new, cross-platform technology for any device with a camera that is capable of detecting and tracking any real world object for AR.

Adroit gives any computer, tablet, smartphone, smart glasses or other hardware the ability to see any real world object, understand what it is (including each smaller, unique part), and overlay important information, seamlessly. The world is not perfect, so we’ve created Adroit with the ability to recognize objects, regardless of size, transparency, lighting conditions, texture, oil, dirt or grime, and other environmental variables. The use cases for how this can positively impact defense are many.

Imagine that an infantry has been deployed down range, far from abundant resources, tools or other luxuries. As they attempt to operate, a power generator unit goes down. Regardless of how simple the resolution may be to get the unit back up and running, previously, a specialist with the proper training would have to be dispatched and deployed — most likely using an aircraft of some sort. This costs time, money, and potentially exposes all servicemen and women involved far more than necessary.

With augmented reality, all of the maintenance procedures can be loaded into a tablet — or even into the software embedded in a pair of smart glasses. As soon as the generator unit goes down, any member of the team can quickly scan the unit and be walked, step-by-step, through each diagnostic procedure. Once the issue is discovered, AR can seamlessly guide them through the repair. Perhaps what’s most amazing is that this technology can serve as a trained expert, verifying each step along the way and helping ensure that each step is properly completed, prior to continuing. This same experience can apply to weapons, equipment, vehicles — essentially, anything, potentially saving time, cost and, ultimately, lives. It’s an added level of assurance for the brave men and women that deserve it most.

Virtual Reality in The Military

Let’s consider virtual reality now. One of the use cases that our team, here at Gravity Jack, has witnessed when working with members of our military is the common inability to truly see, experience, and gain functional comfort in the locations and areas where they will be deployed. Resolving these challenges is hugely important.

One example is when servicemen and women are deployed to expeditionary forensics labs that. These mobile lab units, housing the critical equipment and resources for forensic study, look similar to pop-out containers you may find on a semi-truck and can be deployed anywhere. To ensure that the soldiers who will be working in these labs feel comfortable and aware, from the moment they touch down, Gravity Jack used virtual reality to put them in the lab — before ever leaving home.

Gravity Jack

A fully-interactive, 360º virtual rendering of a lab by Gravity Jack, experienced by men and women of the military.

Simply by strapping on a VR headset, these men and women can feel as though they are standing in the exact forensics lab where they will be sent. They can familiarize themselves, move around, complete trainings and interact with equipment, just as though they were there. We know that peace of mind and awareness can determine the important seconds and minutes when they are needed most. Virtual reality can help provide this, helping ensure that our military has the best chance of survival and success, with every task.

Applying AR and VR Beyond the Military

It’s no question that augmented and virtual reality technologies are impacting (and will continue to do so) the efficiency and safety at which the men and women of our military operate. The use cases provided above are just the surface, with opportunities spanning across training, medicine, combat, and much more.

Beyond the battlefield, these same principles can be applied towards education, industrial manufacturing, training and maintenance, construction, risk mitigation, and more. Ultimately, we anticipate that, in just years, virtually all computing will be done this way; digital will be naturally integrated into our daily lives.

It’s an exciting time for AR and VR, and Gravity Jack is proud to be at the cutting-edge, along with AT&T at AT&T SHAPE happening July 14 and 15, 2017 in Los Angeles, California, at Warner Bros. Studios. Our team will be present, alongside AT&T, sharing live demos of Adroit technology and the immersive AR experiences made possible through this unrivaled new technology. Demos will be available to all in attendance, on a range of hardware (including Microsoft HoloLens and mobile devices), and will feature use cases in maintenance, entertainment, and more.

About Gravity Jack

Founded in 2009, Gravity Jack is a private research, design and development firm, specializing in augmented reality, artificial intelligence and computer vision. The company’s proprietary Adroit™ technology blends artificial intelligence and computer vision, giving any computing device the ability to accurately detect and track any real world object, regardless of size, texture, transparency, lighting conditions or other previous AR challenges. In addition to its research and development work, the team works to create custom solutions for some of the world’s most respected names, including Ford Motor Company, Coca-Cola, the United States Department of Defense and many more. Gravity Jack is headquartered in Liberty Lake, Washington, with a second office located in Denver, Colorado. Learn more about Gravity Jack at https://gravityjack.com.

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