digital nation - life on the virtual frontier

Full Immersion

The military's use of virtual Iraqi civilians and pyrotechnics for troops in training.

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HIgh-Tech Training

In September 2007, the Marine Corps base in Camp Pendleton, CA, opened the Infantry Immersion Trainer (IIT). This 32,000-square-foot, $2.5 million facility combines live action role players and virtual Iraqis projected onto holographic screens to create interactive battle simulations. It's the product of a decade of investment by the Office of Naval Research.

The IIT allows instructors to create complicated training scenarios on the fly. Virtual civilians appear alongside virtual insurgents, teaching the Marines to make snap ethical decisions on when to pull the trigger and how to implement the rules of engagement. The screens even judge how well they aim. The Immersion Trainer also prepares Marines for the stress of close-quarters urban combat and the tactics of clearing houses.

Camp Pendleton's Immersion Trainer is not unique. The Marines have a similar facility scheduled to open at their base in Quantico, VA. The Army also runs an immersion trainer out of the Joint Fires and Effects Integration Center at Fort Sill, OK. All three facilities use FlatWorld mixed-reality technology< developed at the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California.


posted February 2, 2010

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