Enhancing Military Training Using Extended Reality: A Study of Military Tactics Comprehension

This study identifies that increasing the fidelity of terrain representation does not necessarily increase overall understanding of the terrain in a simulated mission planning environment using the Battlefield Visualization and Interaction software (BVI; formerly known as ARES (M. W. Boyce et al., International Conference on Augmented Cognition, 2017, 411–422). Prior research by M. Boyce et al. (Military Psychology, 2019, 31(1), 45–59) compared human performance on a flat surface (tablet) versus topographically-shaped surface (BVI on a sand table integrated with top-down projection). Their results demonstrated that the topographically-shaped surface increased the perceived usability of the interface and reduced cognitive load relative to the flat interface, but did not affect overall task performance (i.e., accuracy and response time). The present study extends this work by adding BVI onto a Microsoft HoloLens™. A sample of 72 United States Military Academy cadets used BVI on three different technologies: a tablet, a sand table (a projection-based display onto a military sand table), and on the HoloLens™ in a within-subjects design. Participants answered questions regarding military tactics in the context of conducting an attack in complex terrain. While prior research (Dixon et al., Display Technologies and Applications for Defense, Security, and Avionics III, 2009, 7327) suggested that the full 3D visualization used by the Hololens™ should improve performance relative to the sand table and tablet, our results demonstrated that the HoloLens™ performed relatively worse than the other modalities in accuracy, response time, cognitive load, and usability. Implications and limitations of this work will be discussed.
Boyce MW, Thomson RH, Cartwright JK, Feltner DT, Stainrod CR, Flynn J, Ackermann C, Emezie J, Amburn CR and Rovira E (2022) Enhancing Military Training Using Extended Reality: A Study of Military Tactics Comprehension. Front. Virtual Real. 3:754627. doi: 10.3389/frvir.2022.754627