Evaluating Mixed Reality and Tablet Technologies in Military Planning.

by | Aug 1, 2023

Increasingly advanced technologies are penetrating military domains (e.g., air, land, sea, cyber, space) requiring more complex decision-making to support activities that apply across these domains (multi-domain planning & operations). These decisions often require humans to perceive, comprehend, project, and then communicate information in a timely and accurate manner, oftentimes with life-or-death consequences. To support these decisions, Department of Defense leaders are calling for more effective representations and displays of joint warfighting environments. This project addresses this requirement by examining novel technologies for integrating and displaying complex MDO plans for human decision-making. Using a mission planning scenario, we assessed situation awareness (SA), usability, cost, and overall effectiveness of a two-dimensional (2D) representation of a common joint warfighting display on a Samsung tablet against a three-dimensional (3D) display of the same information designed for use in a Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality system. A total of 22 U.S. Air Force Academy cadets were randomly assigned to either use the tablet or the HoloLens to develop and analyze a mission plan and assessed for situation awareness across two scenarios. Interestingly, the HoloLens did not provide any additional SA relative to the tablet. The tablet was also perceived as more usable and effective in terms of cost and overall performance. These results suggest more traditional technologies, such as a tablet, can provide SA at similar levels as more advanced technology with increased usability and affordability.


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