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Augmented Reality Technologies for Training: A Video-See-Through, Helmet Mounted Display




ACQUISITION PROGRAM: CMP-FY17-02 - Future Integrated Training Environment (FITE)

OBJECTIVE: To develop a lightweight, small, low-cost, Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) to support Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) training applications for Marine dismounts.

DESCRIPTION: The commercial sector for HMD devices is growing: HTC Vive, Intevac I-Port, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Sony Project Morpheus, and Star VR, etc. Variously these devices are expensive, bulky, clumsy, have low resolution, may be for video display only, and/or are designed for indoor/home use only. Most rely on a cell phone or a clumsy, bulky reflective interface. No single device meets and/or exceeds the objectives needed to perform in an outdoor setting - e.g, military training.

Recently, the Office of Naval Research transitioned the Augmented Immersive Team Training (AITT) capability. AITT enhances force-on-force (FOF) training of call-for-fire and close-air support. Currently, Marines cannot see simulated battlefield effects, such as munitions explosions, during FOF exercises. This training limitation is a Marine Corps training requirements gap. AITT address this gap with Augmented Reality (AR) technology. AITT will transition the resulting science and technology products to the USMC FOF program of record and the Squad Immersive Training Environment (SITE) program – a “toolkit” of live, virtual, and constructive (LVC) technologies to enhance squad operational readiness and squad leader tactical decision-making skills. When the capability was transitioned it was noted that the current video-see-through technology was going to be discontinued and that there weren't any good available options for replacing the capabilities. This work seeks to develop an improved capability that can integrate within the Army and Marine Corps augmented reality efforts [1, 2].

The general device requirements are: a low-cost (<$1000) video-see through HMD that is rugged (e.g. outdoor use), have a small form-factor, be very low mass, have ultra-low electronic power performance, and capable of high-resolution HMD operation. The display must be unobtrusive and mountable on existing Marine Corps helmet Night Vision Goggle (NVG) rails. The device will additionally have three unique features: 1) the device will have dual forward facing “camera” sensors incorporated into its design. These sensors should be user-removable and user-replaceable, and operate as Electro-optical (EO) Infra-Red (IR) (EO/IR) low-light type devices; and 2) the HMD should contain miniaturized-high efficiency (low power) computational hardware and software together with; 3) an embedded inertial measurement unit (IMU) capable of precise, moment-to-moment spatial localization and attitude sensing of the wear’s head anywhere within a 100 meter uncluttered area.

Specific device optical requirements include: 1) Field-of-view FOV approaching 120 degrees and 135 degrees, width/height, respectively; 2) a blended, high-resolution 60 pixel/degree FOV across the foveated display area; 3) a latency less than 5 ms; and 4) the HMD should have a refresh frame rate above 60 Hz. Trade-offs between the requirements are acceptable with priority for higher-resolution, less latency, and future upgrades.

Specific device IMU requirements include: 1) at least 6-Degree of Freedom (DOF) inertial measurement; 2) one or more secondary means of spatial localization (passive RF signals (commercial AM/FM radio), GPS, magnetic compass, astronomical recognition, or some other) would be a plus; and 3) the IMU must resolve with no less than 2000 degrees/sec baseline resolution in each rotational axis uncorrected by anticipatory filter algorithm. The IMU can be physically attached to the HMD although it is preferred the IMU be integrated into the HMD itself. The goal is to reduce the moment-arm and transient vibrations associated with distal mounting. Trade-offs between requirements listed here are acceptable with priority for smaller size and mass, lower-power, greater localization resolution and accuracy, and future upgrades among those that might be proposed by the small business. However, at minimum, we require improvements over a 1280X1024 pixel, full-color, 75° diagonal, with 60° H X 48° V display.

Specific device computational hardware and software requirements include a native capacity for the HMD circuitry to: 1) operate as software-defined, H.264 (V9) (level 5 or better, per page 307, Table A-7) video coding/decoding (CODEC) device [3]; 2) repeat-to-self its EO/IR sensor video, and 3) provide switch selectable transmission of its EO/IR sensor stream to an external device using Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standard 802.3 (wired) [4] and (wireless) [5] embedded 802.11 RF transmission. Additionally, the HMD must be able to receive an externally sourced video stream (via 802.3 and 802.11) overlaying the stream onto (combining with) and or replacing its own video sensor stream completely. Trade-offs between requirements are acceptable with priority for smaller size and mass, lower-power, more flexible end-usage, and future upgrades.

PHASE I: Develop a concept for a low-cost, high-performance, HMD to superimpose computer-generated information on an individual’s view of the real world. Demonstrate the feasibility of the selected concept (hardware/software system HMD device) to meet infantry Marine Corps needs through a set of specific Phase I deliverables.

Deliverables include: 1) An initial prototype or concept / mockup system; 2) A computer aided design (CAD) mechanical design package showing the top-level device and all major sub-assemblies anticipated; 3) Trade-off design decisions and associated justification for system design to include: recommended bill of materials (BOM), CAD, non-recurring engineering cost estimates (NRE), electronic hardware and software architectures, a recommendations list of display surface technologies, processor(s), and graphic processing unit(s).

PHASE II: Based on the results of Phase I deliverables evaluation the company will develop a working proof of concept HMD device for the Marine Corps. Prototype the HMD, conduct critical design review, and demonstrate initial capabilities are sufficient in existing Augmented Reality training applications. Deliver proof of concept devices (at least 2) for evaluation. The prototypes will be evaluated to determine their capability to meet Marine Corps needs and requirements for an augmented reality HMD. Deliver a final BOM, all CAD drawings, hardware schematics, software source code, and negotiated CMMI Level 2 Maturity [6] documentation.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: The performer will be expected to support the Marine Corps in transitioning the HMD device. The performer will support the Marine Corps with integrating the HMD into service with existing Augmented Reality training devices. The performer will assist with certifying and qualifying the HMD system for Marine Corps use. The performer will assist in writing device Marine Corps user manual(s) and Marine Corps system specifications materials. As appropriate, the small business will focus on scaling up manufacturing capabilities and commercialization plans. Private Sector Commercial Potential: It is anticipated this technology will have broad applications in military as well as commercial settings. This effort could create a new product for the computer gaming, home and commercial entertainment, medical, machine operation, and many other markets. Similarly, a successful HMD may find application in search and rescue settings, law-enforcement tasks, water-craft piloting, some driving environments, and many other life uses.


  • Schaffer, R., Cullen, S., Cerritelli, L., Kumar, R., Samarasekera, S., Sizintsev, M. Branzoi, V. (2015). Mobile augmented reality for force-on-force training. Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference Proceedings.
  • Samarasekera, S., Kumar, R., Zhu, Z., Branzoi, V., Vitovitch, N., Villamil, R., Garrity, P. (2014.) Live augmented reality based weapon training for dismounts. Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference Proceedings.
  • H.264 (V9) (02/2014): Advanced video coding for generic audiovisual services. (2014). . Retrieved on 2015-18-12.
  • IEEE 802.3. (2012.) IEEE Standard for Ethernet. . Retrieved on 2015-18-12.
  • IEEE 802.11. (2012.) IEEE Standard for Wireless LANs. . Retrieved on 2015-18-12.
  • CMMI Level 2 Maturity. (2015). CMMI for Development, Version 1.3. . Retrieved on 2015-18-12.

KEYWORDS: Augmented Reality (AR); Virtual Reality (VR); Heads-up-display (HUD), Helmet-mounted-display (HMD); Training; Games

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