Matt invited me out to the base where I could see how they use XBox and other common platforms to train soldiers. They strip down the maps in Halo, then build their own simulations into the device, allowing for soldiers to practice their team building and communication procedures. Since everything is recorded, instructors can pull up videos from the simulations to show troops what went right and what needs to change.
We talked about how we could help educate and inspire students at our school with this technology. He offered to come visit our school and setup stations so students could navigate and explore the technologies.
The first station used an Occulus Rift to let the students feel like they were inside a Italian villa. Students could move their head and look around with the device on them, totally immersing them into another world. They explored the house and yard area in the demo, and we discussed how this would have practical implications for folks like soldiers or home buyers as they learn about a new space without previously visiting it.
Our second station used Leap Motion to allow students to throw balls or other objects only using their hands. Leap recognizes your hands and lets you move objects on the computer. By controlling the computer with gestures, users could interact in a more natural way with physical movements instead of relying on a mouse or other form of input device.
Finally, the third station was Novint Falcon. Novint's device lets the user feel different textures and weights with an ordinary object. Matt uses this in training to have soldiers feel the weights of different objects to pick them up and complete a task (to actually feel what the specific screwdriver weighs as you disassemble an IED).
Matt and his team combine all of these technologies to immerse soldiers into their combat zone to simulate the environment as much as possible to prepare them for their missions. We were grateful for their time and interest in educating our students!