Visualizing the Future – The Emerging and Converging Role of Interface and Cognitive Assistance in Training and C2

By Bryan Fisk (Vice President of Engineering and Innovation)

30 March 2022

Images from the 2013 film Oblivion.

In the science fiction movie Oblivion, Victoria (played by Andrea Riseborough) uses a powerful computer interface to direct the activities of autonomous drones, monitor the spectrum, and control an array interconnected systems. She seamlessly communicates with orbital, airborne, and ground-based assets, and has direct access to telemetry and real time sensor data. Simple touchscreen interfaces perform rapid and complex data interchanges. Her computer provides her with drone health information and an interactive map of her area of operations.

Simple Touchscreen Interfaces

Victoria is assisted by intelligent algorithms which highlight and direct her attention to areas/occurrences of interest. The system also seems to enable contextual access of data – a conversation about a transmission followed by a single tap on a map pulls up the spectrum of that signal and an analysis begins. Her computer, interactions enabled by an intuitive and assistive interface, is a powerful and seamless aid to her mission.

Intuitive interface

Victoria has command of her area of operations because she holds the high ground – both literally (her command post is perched high atop a mountain) and figuratively (through her computer terminal; far more important) – a concept deeply familiar to defense organizations, such as the UK MoD and the US DoD. Today’s multi-domain battlefields require commanders to have all encompassing views of the sea (above and below), ground, air, space, cyber, and the electromagnetic spectrum. The unseen battlefields, cyber and the spectrum, are rendered visible through intuitive interfaces overlaid upon geospatial maps. The complexities and speeds at which events unfold means that there is too much information for people to sift through; there are too many simultaneous domains of concern. The computing and interface capabilities that Victoria leveraged to control her area of operations is a vision of a future that is almost here and one that is already necessary.

This all-domain viewpoint required by commanders and mission planners is also needed by those laying down and executing training scenarios. Understanding the interactions of users, systems, and the environments they inhabit and create - and calibrating both to ensure stable outcomes - requires testing and training; soldiers will fight the way they are trained. Operationally relevant and realistic training is central to a deployment-ready force and complete understanding of the synthetic battlefield presented in training is critical to ensuring that validity.

These joint needs are driving unified Ultra investments in the future of command and control (C2) and EW training systems. Ultra engineers are developing and laying the foundation for next generation visualization and control interfaces to be utilized by training and C2 systems alike; systems that attend (listen, observe), interpret, and anticipate. This platform will provide rich visualization allowing users to observe real-time effects in a geo-spatially relevant multi-D ( >3D) environment (not all counter-electronic attack tactics will involve spectral countermeasures, some may involve simply avoiding a spectrally contested region). Among the capabilities/technologies being developed are:

  • Advanced visualization, emphasizing information over data
  • Asset-aware, but platform-agnostic information display, allowing the operator to access information in a contextually meaningful environment (e.g. spectrum data overlaid on a map rather than accessed by selecting the sensing node itself)
  • AI-assisted operator cueing, drawing operator attention to the most critical information
  • Cognitively assisted scenario and mission planning, ensuring realism and shortening the time between mission/scenario conception and execution
  • Contextual reasoning, pulling information relevant to a discussion or objective to the forefront

Contact us to learn more about EW training and C2 systems, paired with powerful user-interactive interfaces, bringing speed and relevance to command in missions and training scenarios. And for those who have seen the movie: Yes, Sally, we are an effective team.

Electronic Warfare (EW) and Radar Test/Simulation/Training Systems

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