Augmented Reality in the Military

Augmented Reality’s (AR) time has come. As AR applications and devices begin to move from early adopters to mass commercialization military communicators will face the challenge of integrating this new disruptive technology into the ranks of the military. Google Glass may now be dead, but there are still plenty of folks looking into this technology.

Convince me.

OK. Google searches on the topic of AR have quadrupled over the past few years.

So what?

Revenue from AR apps grew to over $800 million dollars annually from 2010 to 2014 (Juniper Research 2013).

That’s just a drop in the bucket.

Developer investment in AR services was $670 million in 2013 and is expected to exceed $2.5 billion by 2015 (ABI 2013).

Alright, that’s more convincing.

The AR market is expected to continue to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) around 30% (TechSci Research 2014).

Alright, so people are more interested in it, developers are building more AR tools, and folks are actually buying it. I’m still not sure I should spend my valuable time or resources on AR – why now?

Well – just watch this:

Imagine how an operator on an objective may benefit from projected enhancing information. Technicians and mechanics could have guided interactions with equipment. Virtual collaboration and shared understanding could increase.

With these opportunities obvious challenges exist:

  • overcoming a military culture afraid of adapting new technologies
  • interoperability of commercial technologies with military systems
  • industry standards are in a nascent stageindustry standards are in a nascent stage
  • privacy concerns
  • security challenges
  • cross-classification sharing of information
  • determining where the AR data resides (at the device or in a cloud architecture)
  • procurement costs and the long-term operations and maintenance sustainment tail

It will take a lot of time and effort to solve these challenges, but rest assured our users will begin to demand this capability within a year of it hitting main stream markets. Let’s not be caught flat-footed like we were when smartphones became mainstream.

As always – the views in this piece are mine alone and do not represent the U.S. government, Department of Defense, United States Army, or any other organization with which I have had any association.

And – if you are interested in collaborating on this topic please let us know and we’ll get you on our distro.

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