Army tests multi-function AR goggles
- By Lauren C. Williams
- Jul 30, 2019
With a year under its belt and a full staff, the Army Futures Command showed off some of its most promising projects.
The Synthetic Training Environment cross-functional team has developed an all-in-one heads-up display for the tactical environment.
The Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) looks like a pair of heavy-duty goggles, but it is a single platform that can run augmented reality training, individual performance assessment and biometric applications.
At a July 16 media event at Ft. Myer-Henderson, Va., IVAS project manager Col. Chris Schneider explained how the headset features enhanced night and thermal vision capabilities and uses augmented-reality capabilities to overlay map displays and data or simulated images in a soldier's view of the real environment. The display is also connected to a soldier's weapon sensor, Schneider said. That means a rifle's muzzle and barrel pop into view of the headset as the weapon is raised and aimed, similar to the user view in the Halo first-person shooter game. Schneider said that feature can improve shooting accuracy.
The team started with the commercially available Microsoft HoloLens headset and plans to integrate more sensors into the platform in October, he said.
"You're bringing a lot of different things into IVAS at once. And the big deal about this is that we're using soldiers" to test it and provide feedback. They've spent 3,000 hours with it over seven months, Schneider said, with a goal of 50,000 hours by the first operational test.
Soldiers and researchers comment weekly via surveys so the feedback loop is continuous with tweaked devices rotating into the field. Changes can happen daily on the software, Schneider said.
IVAS is scheduled to be fielded across the force in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2021. In the meantime, the team has three more capability sets to complete in October, November, and July 2020, the last of which will feature the device in its final form. Schneider said he hopes to have the combat-ready version by the end of next year before heading into operational testing.
A longer version of this article, featuring other innovative programs, was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.
Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.
Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.
Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.
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