The U.S. Army’s Force 2025 and Beyond program is working to incorporate augmented and virtual reality into live training to help better prepare soldiers for the rigors of combat.

Over the past year or so, virtual and augmented reality has made its way into the commercial market in a big way.  High tech headsets like Playstation VR and Oculus Rift provide gamers with immersive experiences that can, at times, seem so realistic that a quick search for people making fools of themselves with VR headsets could leave you entertained for days.  Lower cost headgear that relies on smartphones to provide the visuals have exploded onto the market as well, with even cheaper Google Cardboard alternatives available to those who don’t want to shell out $20 to climb into a virtual world.  Even smart phone games like Pokemon Go rely on an augmented reality to give gamers a sense that the Pikachu they’re chasing is actually alive in the same world the player resides in.

Now, the Army hopes to use the latest trend in video gaming to produce more highly trained and capable soldiers for the battlefield.  By combining real world scenarios with augmented reality, the U.S. Army labs, in conjunctions with the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, hope to create what they call a “synthetic training environment,” or STE, for future soldiers to hone their skills in.

Due to the rapidly expanding industrial base in virtual and augmented reality and government advances in training technologies, the Army is moving out to seize an opportunity to augment readiness,” said Col. Harold Buhl, ARL Orlando and ICT program manager. “With STE, the intent is to leverage commercial advances with military specific technologies to provide commanders adaptive unit-specific training options to achieve readiness more rapidly and sustain readiness longer.”