How the U.S. Military Is Using Augmented Reality to Bolster Troop Readiness

Imagine the first time you’re dropped in a hot zone is the first time your boots have really hit the ground. Your pulse is racing, there’s gunfire coming from in every direction, and you have seconds decide what to do and where to go. Sure, you’ve done some time in pre-deployment training, but most of your time was spent in the barracks, conceptualizing war using two-dimensional models. Nothing has really prepared you for this — but the Army is going to change that.

That’s the impetus behind the Synthetic Training Environment (STE), an immersive augmented reality system designed to place soldiers in diverse operational environments, stress them physically and mentally and bolster readiness through a grueling series of virtual scenarios. The Army Research Laboratory, University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, Combined Arms Center-Training and Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation are currently working on refining the project’s conceptual principles.