VR and haptic vest: towards hyperrealistic simulators to train soldiers

“War as a video game, what better way to raise the ultimate soldier?”the superspy Solid Snake once trumpeted in Metal Gear Solid. The video game saga, started on PlayStation in 1998 and regularly breaking the fourth wall, had indeed chosen to stage the training sessions within a false virtual reality.

The decorations were replaced by transparent and cold blue cubes, with shiny outlines, crossed by bright lights snaking at ground level. In the distance and in the menus, we could distinguish lines of code.

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Modern Warfare

If simulators have existed for a long time, among others for fighter pilots, virtual infantry training has so far been in the realm of the imagination. But they are coming to fruition thanks to advances in several technologies.

First, thanks to advances in virtual reality. Under the impetus of the video game industry – then the soufflé falling from the metaverse – virtual reality (VR) headsets, associated accessories and game graphics have become more sophisticated. Then, with haptic feedback: more and more sensations – even less pleasant ones – related to touch can now be artificially reproduced.

Last December, the media EurAsian Times unveiled a video showing Chinese soldiers training in a dedicated environment, VR headsets on their heads, possibly with a view to the “reconquest” of Taiwan. In the United States, where the video game industry and the military have had ties for some time, VR is also used to train soldiers, but also to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affecting them, such as reported Vice in May 2022.

It’s electric

Enough to give ideas to four French start-ups, each specializing in a segment, which have come together to offer an offer combining virtual reality and haptic feedback. Their goal: to offer the most immersive simulated training possible, especially for special forces.

Lynx develops VR headsets; ProTubeVR dedicated accessories (guns, rifles, joysticks, etc.); Iconik of virtual reality video games; and Actronika haptic accessories, including vests. These latter “can send vibrations, but also electric shocks [si c’est ce que souhaite le client]“, explains to Korii the company, which also praises the applications of its technology in the sectors “luxury, automotive and sextech”.

Such training can be based on virtual reality or augmented reality, which consists of adding virtual elements to a very real training ground that the soldiers can “see”, “hear” and “touch”. In addition to vision and hearing, immersion is enhanced by haptic feedback, capable of making soldiers endure sensations close to those caused by bullet impacts and other explosions.

During the Sofins special forces fair, organized in March, the solution of the French start-uppers in particular aroused the interest of the GIGN, the intervention group of the national gendarmerie, and the tricolor firefighters, but also the special forces of countries. foreign countries such as Croatia.

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