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Sailors are Utilising TRACER Augmented Reality for Combat Training

Sailors are now receiving training with augmented reality (AR) headsets to improve their active-shooter scenario skills.

A revolutionary AR environment has been developed recently through the partnership of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Global TechSolutions, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren. The environment has been created with the help of immersive tech industry associates Haptech Inc. and Magic Leap Horizons. The project, titled Tactically Reconfigurable Artificial Combat Enhanced Reality (TRACER) underwent testing recently at Currituck County’s Center for Security Forces (CENSECFOR) Detachment, on Naval Support Activity Northwest Annex in Chesapeake.


TechSolutions, a rapid-response technology and science programme from ONR Global, works for the development of prototypes for addressing issues highlighted by Marines and Sailors. It takes an approximate duration of 12 months for such developments.

The components of TRACER include a Magic Leap One AR headset, a processor, and a cutting-edge instrumented training weapon which produces lifelike recoil. TRACER has utilised and expanded upon Magic Leap Horizons software, in line with the US Army Augmented Reality Dismounted Soldier Training (ARDST) initiative. TRACER provides highly sophisticated weapons tracking and enables trainers to develop various flexible simulation settings to train security staff.

Image by US Navy Research/YouTube

Dr. Patrick Mead, project lead of TRACER, and a member of NSWC Dahlgren Human Systems Research and Development branch spoke regarding the development. He stated that the TRACER training system has been constructed mainly with off-the-shelf commercial components. Some of the components used in development include popular gaming gear. According to him, the combination of technologies used has helped to create highly precise movement and weapon tracking abilities. The developers have also been able to provide highly engaging audio, visual and haptic feedback.

The system offers engaging, uncommon and dynamic training settings. Creating such training environments in the real world would be quite expensive and time-consuming. – Der. Patrick Mead

CENSECFOR carries out the mission of training Sailors from a wide variety of career streams. It provides training focused on the fundamentals of U.S. Navy security forces, anti-terrorism, code of conduct and expeditionary warfare. These training modules help participants achieve excellence in the aspects of irregular warfare and maritime interdiction.

Cmdr. Kim Littel, director of training innovation, CENSECFOR, remarked that the augmented reality virtual environment can be introduced into the current training schedule, acknowledging that it is quite flexible. She explained that the system enabled trainers to tweak training scenarios, shuffle opposing forces, and even the level of threat in a simulated mission.

Adaptability is quite important for Sailors who are often required to train their skills and stay prepared, even whilst at sea. – Kim Littel

Littel highlighted that the space needed for training operations aboard a ship is usually quite limited. In most situations, training can cause disruptions to routine operations. According to her, TRACER can create workarounds to such issues along with raising accuracy results through large-scale training setups.

The demo session of TRACER held at CENSECFOR was greeted with positive reviews.

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