HoloRange AR Sandtable Prototype Lessons Learned
The US Marine Corps is building a world class wargaming facility located at Headquarters, Quantico, Virginia. Commercial innovation is driving the vision to bring and build useful modern world-class technologies into the wargaming environment. This innovation exploration and prototyping includes data analytics, artificial intelligence, collaboration, integration, employing standards, and eXtended Reality (XR) technologies. The vision includes building an affordable Holodeck-like experience to immerse wargamers in high risk/high security environments to combine live and table-top wargaming with MR/AR/VR XR solutions.
Cole Engineering Services, Inc. (CESI) prototyped building M&S and data visualization, collaboration, grease pen, and other features using the Unity game engine and Magic Leap One devices for this effort called the HoloRange. The HoloRange prototype is a modern implementation of a digital sand table. The superimposed 3D map may be placed anywhere in the real world to include a tabletop, the floor, a wall, or at angles. Terrain was correlated using the Key Terrain product. Challenges with the terrain correlation include mapping geocentric 64-bit coordinates to Unity's 32-bit coordinate system and the Magic Leap's screen coordinates. Icons in AR display slightly off from OneSAF locations, solutions are actively being explored.
Users collaborate by sharing a common view of the map, icons, events, and other visual artifacts. Users also may work offline in their own map local to their AR device, and then rejoin the collaborative game at any time. Such a feature prevents crowding around the table and bending in awkward positions to see finer details. The grease pen feature allows users to draw or erase freehand drawings on invisible planes parallel to the user. The pen may be extended, retracted, or snapped to the map. The data visualization feature included charts and graphs.
The HoloRange is driven by a One Semi-Automated Forces (OneSAF) simulation feeding information over the commercial MSSV (massive) infrastructure. OneSAF provides the models and interactions to represent and animate the MIL-STD-2525D icons on the map. CESI prototyped a symbol web server to host Spatial Illusion's Milsymbol and OneSAF SVG icons. The MSSV data model includes entity state and interactions but is unique because it allows simulators to specify how client menus and options appear to the user. This reduces the amount of customized interactions since each simulator can ask for and receive the information it needs to, for example, create a movement order. An interoperability challenge was that MSSV, also currently a prototype under development, has a limited data model. Workarounds were needed to interact with OneSAF's user data gateway. A lesson learned is that the wargaming use cases need to inform MSSV and other data model developments to include data collaboration, planning, runtime, data analytics, and tech control features.The digital nature of the AR solution allows users to explore the map and visualize simulations at a resolution comfortable for their eyesight without knocking over pieces or messing up a physical sand table. These AR features show potential for planning, execution, and analysis wargaming activities.