Army turns to Hollywood for realism
- By George I. Seffers
- Oct 03, 2000
Institute for Creative Technologies
The Army's partnership with Hollywood entered a new phase as it held the
grand opening of a center that will produce research for more realistic
The Army celebrated the opening of the Institute for Creative Technologies
on Friday. In August 1999, the Army awarded a five-year, $45 million contract
to the University of Southern California to build the institute.
Friday's debut featured celebrities Stan Lee, the creator of Spider-Man,
and actors Kate Mulgrew of the "Star Trek: Voyager" TV series and Elliott
Gould, who starred in the movie "MASH."
Although the Army's simulators might never be as good as the fictional holodecks
on Star Trek, future simulators will be much more realistic than today's
systems, Army officials said.
"This is about injecting more realism in Army training because it is an
old and proven Army axiom that "realistic training saves lives,'" Army Secretary
Louis Caldera said. "Simulators allow you to safely turn up the heat without
the danger of training injuries or other accidents. Right now, flight simulators
allow pilots to get more experience reacting to threats, firing simulated
weapons and flying [over the terrain] of the Earth than they get with 100
hours of actual flying."
Army leaders have asked USC to seek more partners in the film and video
game industries to help develop simulator technology. Paramount Pictures
and Sony Electronics are among those who have already signed up.
The opening of the institute Friday featured presentations of simulation
concepts, including the Mission Rehearsal Exercise System, which is being
developed to allow soldiers to experience the sights, sounds and circumstances
of actual deployments.
The system immerses soldiers in an intense 3-D audio and graphic environment
in which they are required to make quick decisions, according to William
Swartout, technical director for the new research center.
Swartout added that getting realistic simulator software to the field more
quickly is a top priority.
"One of the big issues we are trying to address is that it often takes six
months to develop software for a crisis which is usually over with by the
time the program's ready," Swartout said. "We want to build up a large library
of different environments from around the world into which we can import
characters from other scenarios."
At some point, soldiers might be able to train while in flight to a deployment,
learning about the terrain, culture and mission prior to hitting the ground,