By Geoff Fein, ONR Corporate Strategic Communications
The latest upgrades to the Infantry Immersion Trainer (IIT), a simulator used to fully inundate Marines with the sights, sounds and smells of Afghanistan before ever setting foot in theater, will be demonstrated to Department of Defense officials at Camp Pendleton on Oct. 7.
"The trainer equips infantry with simulation tools similar to what is provided to aviators, ship captains and tank commanders," said Clarke Lethin, technical manager at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for the Future Immersive Training Environment (FITE) Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD).
The FITE JCTD demonstration marks the culmination of a multimillion dollar investment and a two-year intensive collaborative effort to integrate technologies that support mixed and augmented reality for training.
"The virtual characters we have now look more realistic. They react more," Lethin said. "We know the position of all the trainees within the facility. We've added animatronics straight from theme parks for background role players and market vendors to make the atmosphere [real]."
Advanced sound effects have also improved the immersive conditions of the immersive trainer.
Originally developed to provide training against a realistic Iraqi backdrop, the virtual trainer at I Marine Expeditionary Force has undergone revisions to focus on the Afghan environment, adding enhanced tracking technologies and communications for a more authentic user experience.
In its early phases, the IIT focused on kinetics and movement, but for a more immersive scenario, Marines now engage virtual Afghans, or avatars, in conversation to emphasize local languages, such as Pashto.
"Our focus is on demonstrating a relevant and realistic audio experience to go with the visual and physical training experience," Lethin said. "Battlefield sounds logically linked to scenario-based training conditions and cues add to the trainees' perception of reality."
About the Office of Naval Research
The Office of Naval Research provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel with additional employees at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.