Dec 4, 2022
Terasynth Awarded Most Innovative at I/ITSEC 2022 IronDev Competition
Terasynth was honored with the title of Most Innovative at the IronDev showcase at the 2022 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC).
I/ITSEC IronDev competition is a team competition where teams are provided a challenge statement and “secret ingredient” to develop a training solution to improve warfighter readiness. Teams typically consist of diverse members with skills in Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) software development, simulation networking and distribution, graphic design, virtual synthetic environment and digital twin development, and training systems development.
Teams only have three days (November 28 to December 1) to develop their system at I/ITSEC. On December 1st the teams demonstrate their solution in front of a panel of DoD and industry judges.
Current and former I/ITSEC IronDev competitors include the publicly traded technology consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton, Full Sail University, a private university specializing in media and technology, and Agora World, a no-code solution for rapid development of immersive experiences.
The challenge was focused on accelerating innovative modeling and simulation training building block solutions for relevant use cases. Judging criteria included content, logic, integrated environments, architecture, performance feedback and evaluation, in addition to feasibility outside of prototyping phases, suitability for training, elegance in delivery, boldness of idea or approach, and team characteristics.
The theme for I/ITSEC 2022 is Accelerating Change by Transforming Training (ACTT), and the secret ingredient was Back to the Future. The secret sauce ingredient is a creative, thought provoking, art-focused addition to the team’s solution, intended to show off originality and ingenuity.
In this case, it was designed to provoke the questions; is there something older training systems were capable of that isn’t being represented in today’s technological solutions?
Terasynth engaged in two proposed government challenges; the first being pre-flight and pre-operation walkaround inspections of aircraft, and the ability to accelerate training Airmen and air crews to conduct visual walk around pre-flight checks of aircraft or pre-operations inspections for vehicles.
For this we enlisted the help of Keith “MadMax” Gorman and Michael "Particleman" Puoci, both of Virtual Naval Air Operations (VNAO), a passionate flight simulation group made up of mostly former US Navy and other armed forces veterans and aerospace enthusiasts, both 3D artists and aviation systems and operations experts, to help provide both an aircraft and detailed systems checklist.
The result was a Virtual Reality (VR) walkaround and pre-flight check of a the T-45C Goshawk; a two-seat, land-based, carrier-capable jet trainer used by the United States Navy and Marine Corps to train student aviators for frontline service in fighter and attack squadrons. The aircraft simulation was situated inside a hangar on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Oahu, Hawaii, with picturesque tropical mountains in the backdrop, courtesy of Earthcloned™ software.
The secret ingredient was implemented with a finale lightening strike just outside the hangar as the weather suddenly shifts to dark and cloudy skies. When the bolt of light finally dissipates, a fire trail of tire tracks can be seen on the tarmac, as Doc shares some final inspiring words.
Terasynth T-45C Goshawk Pre-Flight Walkaround
For the second challenge, Terasynth utilized the Virtual Synthetic Environment (VSE) pain points expressed by Subject Matter Expert (SME) Wayne Fogel, a former US Army Ranger and Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC), several weeks earlier.
He shared the challenges a JTAC might have training in a traditional Virtual Synthetic Environment (VSE), struggles with hand controllers and other human interface devices, lack of immersion through Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, and shared several of the key procedures and techniques that must be incorporated into the training system.
With help from Tristan Cotter at Varjo, who specializes in enterprise level Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality pass-through headsets, and Tyler Bolhuis from Echo One Niner, who specializes in the recording, mixing, mastering and integration of realistic 3D audio for simulation and film, Terasynth created a fully immersive, Augmented Reality (AR) / Extended Reality (XR) Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training environment with realistic audio, visuals, and physics, complete with simulated aircraft and vehicles.
Leveraging Unreal Engine’s virtual camera system, and with some helpful advice from Sébastien Lozé and Alban Bergeret, both of Unreal Engine, we were able to convert any standard cellular device with a gyroscope into an Augmented Reality (AR) virtual camera within the Virtual Synthetic Environment (VSE). This meant, the Warrior using this training device would not be burdened with heavy, cumbersome, or easily breakable Virtual Reality (VR) technical equipment, but could participate in the training simulation in real time without ever stepping foot inside the synthetic world.
We would leverage the portable gyroscope-enabled device as a fully immersive human interface device to control a SOFLAM or Laser Target Designator, which is a dedicated laser target designating device used by ground forces to designate targets for ballistic missiles, rockets, aircraft, and artillery strikes. It is used in conjunction with a night vision device to allow the operator to accurately target an area of operations regardless of the natural or man-made environmental conditions. In essence, it is a critical asset for air strikes and ground operations. In the training environment, the SOFLAM behaves the same as it would in real world application. With some modifications to the hardware, the Warrior could leverage a portable gyroscope-enabled device that has been modified to appear and behave exactly as a SOFLAM for a seamless virtual immersive training experience.
In addition, human voice recognition and conversion software was implemented, allowing the end user to operate simulations and manipulate targets, as well as engage in radio communications with overhead aircraft, just as they would in a real-world setting. This included all the steps a Joint Terminal Attack Controller may engage in during a real world scenario in which ordinance or an airstrike were called in, including;
• Checking SOPs & Standardization
• Target Acquisition & Location Determination
• Marking Designated Areas & Targets
• Radio Communications & Verbal Command
• Combat Systems & Intelligence Assessments
• Target Illumination & Laser Guidance
• Ordinance Delivery & real-time Tracking
The scenario that followed allowed for a fully immersive multi-player Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) operations simulation, as well as the ability for Warriors, instructors, and key stakeholders to review their actions and understand the effects of their decisions in hindsight.
Terasynth AR/XR JTAC GCS - Joint Terminal Attack Controller Global Combat Simulation
The combination of these two challenges, when coupled with our secret ingredient, resulted in Terasynth being recognized as the most innovative and creative entry.
We are extremely proud of our team for their hard work and dedication in creating an incredible, fully immersive training system that will help equip Warriors with the latest technology to strive for success and safety in the battlefield, and plan to pursue key stakeholders and end customers within the US Department of Defense to further the development of this innovative new training device.
Special thanks to Carol Ann Dykes Logue of the Central Florida Tech Grove, and Ethan Berg of Agora World for encouraging us to participate in I/ITSEC 2022 IronDev this year.
To learn more about I/ITSEC and the history of the IronDev competition, reference this podcast discussion by the VR/AR Association about the I/ITSEC IronDev 2020 competition.