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Augmented Reality Offering From DST will Assist Soldiers in Training

Defence Science and Technology (DST), a division of the Australian Government, is working with its soldiers to gain further clarity regarding the use of augmented reality (AR) for training operations. AR is being put to the test in a range of difficult environments and nighttime training operations.

The approach of using augmented reality for the defence industry often revolves around the concept of ‘less is more’. Soldiers must have access to easy-to-use features as they usually have to carry around heavy loads in demanding scenarios.

Larissa Cahill and Dr. Shahd Al-Janabi, scientists at the DST, are assisting Defence and focusing on the Army with their research. The effects of AR on dismounted soldiers are being studied apart from the concepts of how the technology works.

Cahill is taking a research-backed approach involving sensor-based mechanisms and night vision over which AR technology is being incorporated. Dr. Al-Janabi is expanding the research by including autonomous systems information.

Dr. Al-Janabi revealed greater details about the development, stating that his efforts involve looking at the controls and interface aspects of AR technology. According to him, there already exists an image prototyping the soldier of the future, owing to the efforts of game developers and comic/movie characters like Iron Man, who is known for his tech-powered suit.

Example of the simulated AR HM

The research was presented by Dr. Al-Janabi during the 2018 Defence Human Sciences Symposium. It encouraged discussions and raised interest in the aspects of testing and applying current visual processing concepts in the domain of AR.

He further explained that the power of individuals to process information is limited at particular points in time. According to him, the researchers are using cognitive science to reveal the design mechanisms of AR displays, and also evaluating different design options.

Cahill spoke on the topic of AR incorporation in training, saying that it was known even before the arrival of AR that people can only process some of the information received by them, and the selective perception impacted design choices. According to her, research related to aeronautical displays and land vehicles is being drawn upon, and conclusions are being drawn on how the principles apply to dismounted soldiers.

Dr. Al-Ajnabi believes that AR is ambiguous when it comes to the defence industry.

Al-Ajnabi believes that the technology which developed mostly in the gaming industry with developers displaying information in the line-of-sight of players. The technology was later adopted by the design sector, which considered it as a good idea for sharing information with users in a more casual manner. He is of the opinion that some of the designs are not as beneficial as initially thought.

AR-based designs have proven advantageous for vehicle operators, gamers and pilots, but the implementation has not been that successful yet for soldiers. This is because soldiers need to operate with night vision mechanisms in the darkness, with already limited visibility. In this aspect, the research being done by the DST scientists can make a change using cognitive principles.


Oculus Rift glasses and VR simulations are used by the scientist duo for research purposes.

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