SPAWAR is Changing the Game on Virtual Reality
Turning Hollywood movie technology into the modern Sailor's reality
Standing in a dimly lit room in front of a television laid on its back, a pair of 3D glasses causes a robotic hand to rise up out of the screen. Like Tony Stark playing with his many gadgets in the newest superhero movie, the user turns the hand over with a stylus.
"A lot of work is being done in holographic displays so you actually see something coming out of a display in front of you and you can put your hands around it in your real space," said Heidi Buck, program manager for the Battlespace Exploitation of Mixed Reality (BEMR) lab at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific (SSC Pacific). "We want to take all that technology and figure out how the Navy can start using it."
The goal is to have that Sailor in an engineering space and rather than having to haul around large technical manuals, they can pull out a small tablet device and a pair of glasses and be shown step-by-step instructions on a 3D model of the complex systems they are maintaining.
Perched at the top of Naval Base Point Loma, Calif., surrounded by homes few military salaries can afford, with breathtaking views of San Diego Bay and downtown to one side, and a seemingly endless Pacific Ocean on the other, there sits a cluster of nondescript buildings that are forging the future of the Navy.
At any given time, the military and civilian personnel at SSC Pacific are working on thousands of projects, which aim to better our Navy and the Sailors who serve her.
BEMR lab is doing their part by utilizing new technology being developed in virtual reality and figuring out how the Navy can use it to transform the way the Sailors do their jobs. Using websites like kickstarter.com, the lab takes the newest technologies being developed and looks for ways to incorporate it in the fleet.
"In the BEMR lab we're looking to exploit commercial technology related to mixed reality and mixed reality is augmented reality and virtual reality," said Buck. "We're looking at the commercial space, primarily the computer gaming space, looking at low cost technology and how we can use that for Navy applications."
A large TV turned on its side sits against the wall with a six foot tall avatar of a Cmdr. Foster standing in the screen. As Buck walks across the room and moves in front of the television, a nearby camera senses her position and Cmdr. Foster snaps to attention. He then begins a brief introduction about the demonstration that's about to begin.