For this week’s IT and Science Front… we
look into the country’s virtual reality sector… which is in the limelight for being a new
growth engine. While virtual reality is quickly becoming
a friendly concept to ordinary people in various forms – state of the art entertainment device
would be one – those in other fields are also recognizing the great potential and application
of this technology. THAT includes military training.
Our tech correspondent Kim Jiyeon. Combat training exercises are risky and dangerous.
But in the age of virtual reality, they don’t have to be — thanks to a local startup that
came up with the idea of producing robot simulators that incorporate state-of-the-art virtual
reality devices. “I’m about to try on the ‘virtual shooting
combat,’ a VR simulation of a military training exercise in a hostage rescue situation. It’s
one of the closest real life simulations and the prototype is expected to be used in the
actual training of soldiers.” The device is equipped with a robot treadmill
and motion-capture sensors embedded on the users’ shoes and a model M4 that weighs 2-point-7
kilograms. “It’s an upgraded version of the conventional
screen-based simulators… in that it uses high-quality VR headsets, or head-mounted
displays, and a haptic device that uses human-robot interaction technology.” At the end of the “mission,” the users’ performance
is evaluated… based on the number of shots fired, timing, coordination with teammates…
and where the targets were hit. Like the “virtual shooting combat” device,
the company’s “virtual parachuting” simulation is equipped with 360-degree video displays
and motion sensors,… allowing soldiers to train themselves to free fall and handle their
gear in case of a parachute malfunction — situations that up until now were difficult to imitate
due to the risks to the trainees. The seven-year-old startup Optimus System
specializes in digital manufacturing,… an integrated approach to manufacturing centered
around a computer system. The company has provided 3D robot simulators
for renowned companies including Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Korean tech giant Samsung
Electronics and automobile makers such as Ford and Chrysler.
For military purposes, the company says it’s planning to export to the Middle East, Russia,
Vietnam and the Philippines,… while also providing devices for entertainment and theme
parks in Korea and China. To do that, it hopes to secure up to 3-point-5-billion
U.S. dollars from state and private investments by 2030 for the mass production of its simulators. “Although there’s a high demand for VR-based
devices… the networking environment and ecosystem for VR companies to collaborate
and thrive are still premature in Korea… because companies are reluctant to disclose
their business ideas and advanced technology,… mainly due to concerns about technology leaks.
A government-led policy in the right direction would be of great help.” In response to industry demands like these,
the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning announced plans earlier this month to create
a sustainable ecosystem where VR content platforms can be applied to a broad range of sectors…
including gaming, sports and tourism. And it’s hoping to invest more than 35-million
U.S. dollars to fund the initiative. Starting 2017, the ministry says it will promote
the application of VR content to the areas of education, construction, medical services
and commerce. It has also designated Digital Media City,
a state-of-the-art entertainment cluster in western Seoul,… as an infrastructure hub
for VR tech companies. The facility will also host a VR theme park
and serve as the location for the first Seoul VR Festival, slated for October.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.