Wide Area Virtual Environment



The Wide Area Virtual Environment, or W.A.V.E., is a large-scale simulator designed to train medical teams in battlefield and natural-disaster scenarios. Three-dimensional images displayed on three vertical screens immerse viewers in a virtual setting. Unlike simulators that use computer monitors or head-mounted displays, the 8,000-square-foot virtual space created by the WAVE allows team members to interact with each other and real equipment, and gives instructors the opportunity to teach and assess teamwork skills. Stereoscopic images are displayed on the screens with paired DLP projectors while users wear lightweight stereoscopic glasses to view the scene.

The Future: Scheduled for completion in 2012, the Wide Area Virtual Environment will be able to simulate the chaos from a rescue mission with Chinooks landing under fire in the Khyber Pass, Afghanistan to a mass casualty air disaster. Two pods 20 feet in diameter are connected by a 15- foot corridor. 144 projectors project images on to the eighteen 9- foot tall and 12-foot wide movie screens surrounding the two pods. A 5.1-channel sound system generates a “sounds cape” that enhances the realism of the experience with flying bullets, screams and explosions. Smoke generators and debris scattered across the floor adds to the mayhem. Teams of up to 18 people train together during a sustained period. One pod simulates the aftermath of the first scenario such as a firefight. Students evacuate patients along the corridor to the second pod where a second scenario such as helicopter transport plays. Meanwhile the first pod is being re-staged as a field hospital. Thus training can be sustained in real time for extended periods.