VICKSBURG, Miss.—As the world of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) continues to rapidly expand, cutting-edge equipment is increasingly vital to remaining relevant. The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) Information Technology Laboratory (ITL) AR/VR One Team has stepped up to the plate by acquiring two sets of virtual reality gloves that allow users to grab and manipulate items within a simulated environment.
“When we first built the Dynamic Immersive Virtual Environment, or DIVE, laboratory, many of us were new to AR/VR development,” said Dr. Jennerpher Bryner, a computer scientist in ITL. “As we looked at capabilities that were available, it quickly became apparent that we would need groundbreaking software and hardware to be competitive in the research and development world of AR/VR.”
The quest for this technology began with an identified need for a virtual training capability that would allow users to work with small objects. Rather than relying solely on in-person training, utilizing VR reduces cost, eliminates disruptions and enables an increased number of exercise scenarios. The gloves, which use a system of targeted and tactical sensations with skin displacement to simulate real touch, met the training need and also offered unlimited possibilities for future research efforts.
“Down the road, we expect to see development of full exoskeletons, as well as other new VR capabilities,” Bryner said. “We hope to continue expanding on what we have now and possibly create opportunities for full immersion into virtual reality. The technology has already changed the way we work and learn, and it will now be used to aid the ERDC mission.”
ITL’s DIVE laboratory enables researchers to test and develop solutions for the Department of Defense using leading AR/VR gear. The facility is also home to multiple VR stations, an omni-directional VR treadmill that allows for limitless investigation into simulation, wireless AR devices that support field deployments, a projection floor for semi-immersive experiences for large team collaboration and a green screen system that supports immersive video capturing.