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ROME — When it comes to delivering training, future technology needs to be thoroughly tested, more focused on the learner and more carefully tracked in terms of results, experts said.
“What we have to get technology to do is deliver the learning requirement such that the learner gets the most out of it,” rather than the deliverer, said Capt. Andy Cree, command officer of the U.K.-based Defence Centre of Training Support.
Cree said that if we evaluate how well the simulation and technology performs its objectives, trainers will have a better understanding of how service members are trained and be able to justify further simulation despite tight budgets.
Those training needs should be determined earlier in the process than they currently are, as soon as the procurement stage, he said.
The technology must also be pertinent to the training need, with only as much fidelity as is required, said Peter Morrison, president of Bohemia Interactive Simulations.
The Virtual Battlespace 2 creator said he had a “serious problem” with technologies that are flashy but have not scientifically shown that they achieve end training objectives. He cited virtual reality headsets and the Dismounted Soldier Training System that the U.S. Army is rolling out over the next few years.
“Is it a valuable training tool now?” Morrison asked of DSTS. He said that such products need to endure more research, development, and testing, and could be dangerous if thrown at soldiers before truly ready.
Maj. Tom Mouat and Rear Adm. Simon Williams, both on the ITEC panel about future training technology, agreed with Morrison that investing in the VR headsets might be a dead end, or are at their current state not quite up to the task.
Williams said paraphernalia such as the headsets were not associated with the reality troops would be in.
“Technology can actually get in the way,” he said.
Joseph Chen, the senior product manager for the Oculus VR low-cost gaming headset, agreed that there should be more scientific testing and analysis to determine that new technology and content achieve training objectives, but should not stifle creativity. One of the drawbacks of training and simulation can be the long lead time and extensive testing.
“Don’t limit the aggressive growth and experimentation. But if you have the resources to do concurrent research, I’m totally for that,” Chen said.
He emphasized that technology is just that — a piece of tech, and that combining it with good content in a smart way determines the value. He is hopeful that the Oculus VR headset, which has shipped to 7,500 Kickstarter backers and is starting to ship to 16,000 people who preordered it, will soon see developers adapting content for the military.
“We’re not saying it’s the answer for everything,” Chen said of virtual headsets. “But when you try something and it works, you realize it may be worth pursuing.”
Antycip, the European distributor for the Expedition DI technology that forms the basis of the DSTS, said that its technology is designed to complement live training, not replace it.
“It doesn’t replace all infantry training,” said Eric Delemer, a support engineer for with Antycip. “The particular goal is to train as a team.”