by David Crane
Of all the products displayed at Trexpo East 2004, DefRev enjoyed this one the most. It’s called the IVR-300 HD/IVR-360 HD Use-of-Force Firearms Training Simulator System. Its manufacturer, Virtra Systems, refers to the technology as "immersive virtual reality", and to be honest, I can’t come up with a description that’s more accurate than that.
Basically, what the Virtra Systems IVR-360 HD/IVR-300 HD does is place the student/trainee inside a virtual, interactive environment that forces him/her to make fast judgements in various tactical scenarios that play out on the surrounding screens. Distilled to a single sentence, the IVR simulator is essentially a one-room, virtual shoothouse that immerses a student in limitless real world-mimicking tactical scenarios. The moment-to-moment and ultimate outcomes of these scenarios are based on…
the student’s voice commands and actions, since the instructor, watching everything the student says and does, controls what the virtual and potentially hostile subjects do. Thus, the interactive part. So, the student controls his or her own destiny, so to speak. The only limit to the number of scenarios that can be presented are time and money, since each scenario must first be filmed with actors playing the roles of assorted misguided and deranged people, i.e., domestic-abusers, car thieves, maniacal bomb-wielding, hostage-taking terrorists…you know, the usual.
The screens can either completely surround the student, as on the IVR-360 HD and, to a slightly lesser extant, IVR-300 HD models, or they can be laid out in front of the student in a flat 180o display, known as the IVR-180 HD.
Fortunately, DefRev got a chance to demo the Virtra Systems IVR-300 HD at the Virtra Systems booth at TREXPO West. The instructor, Jerry Long (Virtra System’s Military and Law Enforcement Sales Director), ran me through one warm-up scenario, and three different tactical problems/scenarios during my demo. The warm-up was an (virtual) outdoor pepper-popper target warm-up, to get me used shooting the simulator Glock pistol, and to tune up my shooting skills a bit. The simulator Glock pistol, made by Dvorak Instruments, utilizes an air recoil system, to make the firing experience as realistic as possible.
Anyway, before I knew it, I was standing in the middle of a virtual field out in the country somewhere, surrounded by stationary virtual steel pepper-poppers. When the instructor gave me the go ahead, I peppered and popped the targets, attacking them left-to-right. Got through that one o.k. Then I was presented with the first tactical scenario, a domestic situation. Second tactical scenario was a crazed terrorist with a bomb strapped to his torso. That was certainly interesting. The final scenario was a group of gangbanger-type thugs/car thieves. Let’s just say that during this scenario, you’d better use your peripheral vision and instincts. All I’ll say about these tactical scenarios (since I don’t want to give too much away) is that they all presented interesting and challenging (and dare I say, exciting) problems that I had to solve.
Challenging how? Well, act (i.e. use your weapon) too late, and you (and others) end up dead–either blown up or shot. Act too soon (i.e. jump the gun, so to speak), and you’re looking down what, in the real world, would be the wrong end of an internal revenue investigation and lawsuit. Virtra Systems could have run me through a lot more scenarios of course, but time was a factor, and they had a lot of attendees waiting to test their skills against the system. So, they kicked me out after three (tactical) scenarios.
DefRev really had a blast (no pun intended) demoing the system, and would advise any LE agency or unit looking for a cutting edge virtual training simulator take a serious look at the Virtra Systems IVR Use-of-Force Firearms Training Simulator, and give it a T&E. LE agencies and military organizations/units interested in either learning more about or purchasing a Virtra Systems simulator should contact Jerry Long at 817-261-4269, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the future, I’d like to see Virtra Systems offer a full-scale virtual shoothouse with multiple rooms that the student can actually move through.
So, whe’re do I see the technology heading? Two words: holographic projection. I have a strong suspicion that LE students/trainees of the future will have to deal with holograpic badguys in 3D. Aahhh, grasshopper, now I gotcha’ thinkin’, huh? The future’s good.
Click here to watch Virtra Systems’ latest product video, with testimonials from TREXPO, in Windows Media Player. Click here to watch the same video in Real Player, if you have a DSL or Cable Modem connection, or click on this link if you have a 56K modem.
If you like to see CNN’s “Tech TV Special Report” coverage of the Virtra Systems IVR Simulator, here are the links for that: Windows Media Player: DSL/Cable or 56K, or choose Real Media: DSL/Cable or 56K.