Developing an Intermediate Augmented Reality Capability for Infantry
Navy SBIR 2019.1 - Topic N191-042
ONR - Ms. Lore-Anne Ponirakis -
Opens: January 8, 2019 - Closes: February 6, 2019 (8:00 PM ET)


TITLE: Developing an Intermediate Augmented Reality Capability for Infantry


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Human Systems, Information Systems


OBJECTIVE: Develop an optical see-through, head mounted device (HMD) and associated peripherals to enhance situational awareness for dismounted Warfighters in any environment (e.g., indoor or outdoor). This device is to be an intermediate solution to full Augmented Reality (AR); and used to build situational awareness via the HMD, but without the full capabilities needed for AR: position, location, and/or head tracking of full AR that displays entities tethered to the real world.

DESCRIPTION: Achieving higher levels of situational awareness in uncertain, unstructured, and dynamic environments is critical for dismounted operations. Currently a tablet using specialized software is available to view full motion video and other battlefield control measures; accessing this information requires the user to shift attention from what is in front of him/her and look down at the screen. Hardware and software visualization of key battlefield information with AR is currently under development [Ref 1], but this “full AR” requires computing power and visualization techniques that may not always be necessary to improve the situational awareness of the warfighter. To provide more near-term solutions, development of an intermediate AR solution is desired. Previous Navy SBIR topics have been focused on development of full AR, while this SBIR topic is focused on intermediate capability optimized towards near-term solutions that enhance situation awareness, and away from end-state full AR capabilities such as a large field of view (FOV), perfect brightness, and perfect contrast. The desire for intermediate AR is to introduce the dismounted Warfighters to HMD displays and information in the field of view, without inserting entities that are tethered to the real world. Successful development will allow dismounted troops to view and select desired information to increase situational awareness but leave off the need to track the wearer’s movements and/or correlate the display of augmented icons with the real world. A prototype display device using the proposed intermediate A/R solution, as opposed to the full A/R in Ref 1, will be available for field testing within 12 months.

PHASE I: Analyze the system architectures and capabilities of existing HMDs for use in indoor/outdoor and intermediate AR applications. Provide a detailed analysis of the amount and type of information that may be displayed, but not clutter or overwhelm the viewer. Develop a detailed architectural description and clearly identifying all primary functional elements and the development required to sufficiently mature the approach. Develop plans for Phase II. If human subjects testing is anticipated during Phase II, due to the potential delays in the review and approval process, prepare and submit Intuitional Review Board (IRB) documentation during the Phase I option period, if awarded.

PHASE II: Develop a prototype optical see-through device that is compatible with current Program of Record individual protective equipment, exploring viable display solutions (microLEDs, OLEDs, etc.), and able to build situational awareness of the user (as defined during Phase I) in an indoor/outdoor environment. Considerations of prototype development include cost, SWaP-C, image quality, field of view, contrast, illumination, brightness, durability, and possibly others. Again, an intermediate solution may only optimize on a few key features to achieve a near-term solution. Conduct research experiments to examine the impact of the intermediate solution compared to current solutions (e.g., tablets). As such, the appropriate human research protections (e.g., IRB) will need to be considered.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Support Naval Special Warfare and Marine Corps stakeholders in transitioning the HMD device. Support stakeholders with integrating the HMD into service with existing AR training devices. Assist with certifying and qualifying the HMD system for stakeholders’ use. Assist in writing device user manual(s) and system specifications materials necessary for stakeholders.

It is anticipated this technology will have broad applications in military as well as commercial settings. The technology created from this Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) topic can be leveraged for new products for computer gaming, home and commercial entertainment, medical, machine operation, and many other markets. Similarly, a successful HMD may find application in search and rescue settings, law-enforcement tasks, water-craft piloting, and some driving environments.


1. Freedberg Jr., S. J. “HUD 3.0: Army to Test Augmented Reality for Infantry in 18 Months.” Breaking Defense. March 2018.

2. N162-123. “Augmented Reality Technologies for Training: A Video-See-Through, Helmet Mounted Display”. Small Business Administration.

3. N171-091. “Synthetic Vision for Ground Forces”. Small Business Administration.

KEYWORDS: Augmented Reality; Sensing; C4I; Head-mounted Devices; Video Display; Command and Control; Intermediate AR



These Navy Topics are part of the overall DoD 2019.1 SBIR BAA. The DoD issued its 2019.1 BAA SBIR pre-release on November 28, 2018, which opens to receive proposals on January 8, 2019, and closes February 6, 2019 at 8:00 PM ET.

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