USS Benfold Sailors Visit ICT

Published: October 25, 2013
Category: News

A group of Navy sailors from the USS Benfold toured the USC Institute for Creative Technologies to see some of the latest examples of virtual reality technologies that could one day be installed on Navy ships. The visit was part of ICT’s participation in Project ATHENA, a Benfold-based initiative to bring innovative technology solutions to improve the Navy.
“These guys have great energy and ideas,” said Todd Richmond, ICT’s director of advanced prototype development and transition. “We hope to serve as a lab that can collaborate with them to make some of those ideas a reality.”
Work along those lines has already begun. When a Navy Ensign proposed developing a system to improve the way Navy ships identify where sounds are coming from in low visibility conditions, ICT’s Mixed Reality Lab (MxR) developed a working prototype using a Microsoft Kinect and a Smartphone.
The idea took the top prize in an ATHENA event earlier this year and has led to continued conversations between ICT researchers and the Benfold sailors, who during their visit got a first hand look at some of the latest technologies being worked on at ICT. These included the ICT Graphic’s Labs advances in creating realistic digital doubles and the MxR Lab’s breakthroughs in data display techniques as well as virtual and augmented reality. The Office of Naval Research SwampWorks is currently funding project “Blueshark” at ICT looking at near-term and longer-term technologies and how the Navy will deal with these virtual and augmented spaces in the future.
“Sailors have to interact with each other and all kinds of information and situation, often in small physical spaces,” said Richmond. “When you fold virtual spaces into the mix, you get limitless possibilities, but also numerous challenges. It is valuable to hear first hand from them what their current problems are and then work directly with them to try to solve them now and in the future.”
Richmond and ICT’s Evan Suma, who is also a research assistant professor of computer science at USC, will continue the conversation when they attend an ATHENA idea showcase in San Diego later this week.