U.S. Army avatars under discussion

Virtual Resiliency Campus computer screen
U.S. Army

Another signpost indicating the extent that digital games have infiltrated our daily lives: The U.S. Army is now considering an idea to use digital avatars to help train combat soldiers.

The idea, now under discussion, would involve the use of digital doubles for virtual training in exercises controlled remotely to make sure soldiers get trained with the latest information and evolving scenarios, according to the publication National Defense.

James Blake, the Army's program executive officer for simulation, training and instrumentation, told National Defense that the avatars would feature the individual facial features of a soldier as well as other physical attributes. "If he's a tall person, the avatar would be tall. If he's a short person, the avatar would be short. When you're in your game environment you'd like to have the physical and mental attributes of that individual reflected in that virtual world," Blake said.

"With avatar technology, you can take somebody today who experienced a new threat and have him role-play for those going into theater in real time," Kennedy said. "At some point in the future, we should be able to model those human behaviors and really create what the Army is trying to do. It is helping us to push that technology along. If you look at the training continuum, how many things can be satisfied by an [artificially intelligent] avatar today as opposed to two years ago or a year ago? We're continually dramatically improving." There's already precedent for this sort of thing. The army uses virtual worlds for a variety of training exercises from immersive combat training to cultural sensitivity coaching via videogame.