Infantry training is critical to ultimate mission success in the field, and modern electronic tools have made it possible to elevate the education to a new level. One of the better training simulators available is ExpeditionDI® from Quantum3D, a wearable turnkey simulation solution for US Army infantry simulation and training. The simulator’s open software architecture enables integration of simulation and game software to create realistic battle scenarios in which those wearing the simulator can freely act as individuals, but learn to behave as part of a team.
The ExpeditionDI system is based on research performed by CG2, a wholly owned subsidiary of Quantum3D. Research has shown that the most dangerous time for new warfighters is when they are in a new environment learning how to handle weapons and different combat situations. The ExpeditionDI system is designed to provide practical training in almost any environment (Fig. 1), using a hardware “weapon” in a virtual environment presented on a high-resolution display screen. The weapon has a realistic shape, weight, and feel.
The uniform employs a 1280 × 1024 pixel organic-light-emitting-diode (OLED) head-mounted display (HMD) to provide realistic images. The simulator uses wireless connectivity to provide a collective training environment for any number of participants (Fig. 2).
Participants do not simply look at a video screen but are immersed in a simulated world, with senses responding to audio and video information. With the high-resolution HMD, when a participant moves his head, the world he is viewing moves accordingly. Because posture sensors are built into the leg strap, when a trainee drops to a knee, his perspective on the virtual world changes. The tightly coupled HMD presents a 360-deg. field of view with the participant in the middle. The flexible simulator, with an open architecture that allows a variety of different simulation and game software to be integrated into the controller, can be networked for larger-scale exercises for joint forces training. The uniform/system includes an audio headset with microphone for realistic tactical communications and recording.
Each ExpeditionDI is powered by a hot-swappable battery for full mobility. The system’s computer is contained within a wearable pack on the back of the uniform, and the platform features an integrated cable-management system that can withstand hard use in any training field. The ExpeditionDI also employs a patent-pending hand-grip/controller unit that provides an intuitive interface for locomotion within the virtual environment. Those wearing the system hear the sounds of the environment as well.
The ExpeditionDI simulator is an effective tool not only for military trainees, but also for special security forces and civilian law-enforcement personnel. Among other programs, it is currently part of the Dismounted Soldier Training System led by the Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training, and Instrumentation (PEO STRI). Because the training system is portable and uses wireless communications and can be operated with a variety of different software tools, it can be used almost anywhere and at any time. It can host a number of different simulation software programs, including SVS from Advanced Interactive Systems, VBS2 from Bohemia Interactive, and RealWorld from Total Immersion Software (now Intific). In addition, Squad Kits are available for group training and mission rehearsal.