The US military is creating its own version of the Metaverse.
For years, militaries around the world have used augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to provide weapons training, equipment training, and flight training for soldiers. Such tools can reduce the costs associated with preparing soldiers for “live” conditions and lead to more robust results than could otherwise be achieved.
Welcome to next-generation Metaverse technology. Earlier this month, two fighter pilots participated in a never-before-tested high-altitude proto-Metaverse experiment. Over the California desert, in a pair of fighter jets, two skilled pilots donned special augmented reality headsets to test a virtual mid-air refueling program.
Military and Metaverse
The idea of immersive virtual environments has captured the attention of those in the contracting and defense technology spaces. Defenders are eager to capitalize on the potential and related development opportunities.
Recently, a combination of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and video game graphics has also equipped fighter pilots with the ability to engage in “dogfights” against virtual fighter jets. Proponents say the technology offers realistic assessments of pilots’ capabilities, surpassing the assessment accuracy associated with conventional flight simulators.
Another advantage of the technology is that virtual opponents can be controlled by a remote individual or by artificial guidance. This allows you to practice with a wider range of tactics, techniques, and real-world scenarios than previously available.
Military metaverse and metaverse-adjacent programs
Currently, the US military relies on a number of Metaverse and/or Metaverse-adjacent VR programs, including the following:
- High-tech hulls for new F-35 fighter jets
- Project BlueShark, which allows sailors to operate vessels
- Project Avenger, used to help train US Navy pilots.
- VR to help with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress at VA hospitals
DARPA Insights: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Development
According to a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program manager, the real value in exploring Metaverse-like technologies exists at the true intersection of the physical and virtual worlds. Right now, the Metaverse is largely virtual. Greater complementarity between virtual spaces and physical spaces will increase perception capabilities and enable advanced operations (think AR).
However, previous efforts to mix worlds have faced challenges. For example, a leaked Microsoft memo about a $22 billion contract suggested that development of the US Army’s version of the HoloLens AR headset was not proceeding as planned. A corresponding Department of Defense audit indicated that the US Army may drop the deal altogether.
For many, Metaverse’s development hurdles are not an impediment. They are simply obstacles in the context of the “fail fast, fail later” mentality. Product developers and designers will learn through trial, error, and experience; commercial products will eventually work as intended.
Professor Sorin Adam Matei, a Purdue University professor who has developed virtual battlefield training programs, says the technology must be simpler than the creators of the Metaverse imagine. “When you’re out there… [on the battlefield] the last thing you want to worry about is another piece of equipment” that could fail.
“We need to think a little more about this Metaverse metaphor, which is powerful but also has limitations.”
Is the term “the Metaverse” a misnomer? According to the Harvard Business Review, yes, the term “Metaverse” may be a bit of a misnomer since the Metaverse is not a single unit. Rather, any company can develop its own virtual world (“Metaverse”) or partner with another entity to participate in its virtual world.
Who owns the Metaverse? The Metaverse is made up of a series of virtual reality environments largely created by different media, entertainment, and technology companies. While these companies own the rights to their respective Metaverse environments, they relinquish some degree of control when it comes to what happens within those environments, as users often control their own Metaverse interactions.
You could say that companies are legally responsible for spaces in the Metaverse, but that people own their virtual identities and their virtual actions within those spaces.
Is the metaverse safe? Currently, one of the biggest risks within virtual reality environments is data security and privacy. Another big concern relates to the safety of children. While trade groups are working to address these issues, the current Metaverse landscape presents distinctive risks.
Will brands need to manage their presence in the Metaverse? For brands leveraging the Metaverse, yes. The Metaverse presents both reward and risk, in the same way that social media platforms do.
However, some brands will own a Metaverse/virtual world created to explicitly serve specific end goals (eg, The Walt Disney Company has created its own Metaverse/virtual environment), while other brands will ‘inhabit’ the worlds. virtual created by third parties. media, entertainment or technology companies. The exact brand management needs will be matched by the level of immersion and engagement that a brand seeks, receives, and perpetuates in the Metaverse.
How are executives responding to the Metaverse concept? According to a majority of respondents to an Accenture survey, 42% believe Metaverse will be “breakthrough” or “transformational” and 71% of respondents say Metaverse is likely to have a positive business impact overall. .