Latest Blog: Virtual Solutions for Military Training – GI Joe to VR Joe

When you think about Virtual Reality (VR), most people think gaming, or maybe a 3D enhancement to a cinematic experience. It’s fun certainly. But can VR be used for anything more substantial? Absolutely! 

“Keep the sand out of your weapons, keep those actions clear. I’ll see you on the beach.”  says Captain John Miller in “Saving Private Ryan”. But what if his soldiers could have practiced this first?!

Did you know that VR technology can be used to help with military training? One of the main advantages of using VR in this way is its ability to immerse users in real world missions, whilst keeping them totally safe. It’s not just a run of the mill tech development – it’s a bombshell! It means military and defence contractors can experience challenging and dangerous environments without leaving the comfort of their camouflage covered training room. VR is also being successfully used to help treat veterans with PTSD. More than just a bit of fun? We think so. 

VR can put any trainee in any situation, environment or place in a way that’s incredibly cost effective. It can be used to build specific skills such as navigation or survival skills, hone awareness or take someone through a parachute jump. It can also help soldiers learn how to deal with hostile environments, such as suicide bombers or sniper attack. It’s fair to say no other technology can offer such integrated experiences. The possibilities are literally endless. 

How does it work?

Some situations are incredibly tough to replicate. Imagine for a moment that you are medical personnel and headed to work in a war zone. Without VR, it would be practically impossible to create sufficiently realistic war-like training surroundings without a Hollywood budget. But with VR, medical personnel can be placed into virtual close combat situations and given the opportunity to practice different skills under stressful conditions. You could, for example, be placed in a simulated vehicle with a prosthetic body. VR can produce personnel better equipped to deal with extreme conditions and combat situations.

Using VR to deliver military training would involve participants wearing headsets, allowing the user complete freedom of movement and hand controls or data gloves. Portals allow the delivery and upload of 360 images and video footage, allowing trainers to customise content. This training content can be stored locally on devices meaning there’s no need for a network or wireless connection which makes it easy to access, regardless of location. Training could be teaching how to correctly assemble and shoot a firearm or working together, using military tactics in a VR section attack. 

Get Your Game Face On

Are you familiar with the incredibly popular game Fortnite? You might be interested to know that a lot of the software used to create these experiences for military training have been heavily influenced by gaming. In fact, some of the VR training tools are based on the Unreal Engine, which was created by the makers of Fortnite. This platform allows developers to bring 3D virtual worlds to life, using ready made parts. It means already established in-game physics can be used to create important details, such as making bullets fly in the right direction. Generic environments can be bought relatively inexpensively and then optimised, improved and added to by designers. This makes creating bespoke VR environments an incredibly speedy process – we’re talking days, not weeks or months. Because the process is so fast, it means specific environments can be created for each mission. How awesome is that?!

VR is a revolutionary new step that can provide military personnel with unique training opportunities before they head out into the field. It’s cost effective, it’s realistic, and it’s as high stakes as it can get without risking a single squaddie. This form of hands on virtual training is the future – and Her Majesty’s armed forces are already fully on board.

What do you think? Could you see yourself locked, loaded and ready for action?  


At Circus we are award-winning experts in virtual reality. We’ve worked with a wide range of clients across many sectors including public and private, creating tools that range from virtual open days to virtual tours, virtual sales tools to virtual history lessons. Whether you’re looking for military virtual experiences or something else, give us a call. Our friendly team are always eager to help – 020 3764 2794.

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