The Simulators Division in the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, opened a new Innovation Lab called the “ Sims Holodeck” as a space to explore, innovate, and prototype the next generation of training technology.
Lt. Gen. Shaun Morris, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) commander, and Lea Kirkwood, Program Executive Officer for the Agile Combat Support Directorate, cut the ribbon to officially open the facility.
Part of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Agile Combat Support Directorate, the division acquires and modernizes training systems to enhance lethality and readiness by growing a diverse workforce motivated to sharpen the warfighter's bite. They specialize in cutting edge virtual and augmented reality training systems.
“These spaces will support the warfighter and support the future,” Kirkwood said. “Every day we discover new touchpoints of other parts of the mission that can be leveraged and brought into the integrated whole. This facility is going to be one of the cornerstones of that effort.”
The Innovation Lab will provide an opportunity to engage with industry and look to fulfill a role in education across the simulator workforce. In addition, it will serve as the primary space to engage with industry partners currently on contract with the division. The lab will support innovation across the division’s customers in Air Combat Command, Global Strike Command, Air Mobility Command, Air Education Training Command, Air National Guard Command, and Air Force Special Operations Command.
“The Sims Holodeck will be a space that will allow companies to visit and demonstrate their products,” said Dylan Greco, Innovation Team program manager. “The equipment inside of the Sims Holodeck is reconfigurable and can be arranged in several different ways. That will allow division employees a convenient place to prototype offered products and give feedback to industry.”
“The original idea of the Sims Holodeck was brought up through the Agile Combat Support Pitch-In contest in 2019 and was selected as the winner,” said Margaret Merkle, Lead Program Manager of the Innovation Team. “Construction began in March of 2021, and included installation of commercial and AFNET internet, a reconfigurable layout with moving workstations, a raised ceiling, and many more features. Audio and video capabilities will be installed this summer, expanding the Holodeck’s flexibility.”
The Sims Holodeck includes desks, chairs, and workstations that can be utilized by the companies and other visitors. Currently in the space is an ISLE-LMS cockpit simulator from Pison, built under a phase II SBIR contract. The space also features software from other phase II and phase III SBIR contracts that is available for demonstrations.
The Sims Holodeck also has an arsenal of virtual and augmented reality headsets including Varjo, HTC, and Oculus. Members of the Innovation Team are currently working to create a SharePoint that will allow other groups and individuals to utilize the space through a reservation system.
“We are looking forward to what the collaboration the Sims Holodeck will allow and ultimately the improved technological tools we can deliver for the warfighter,” Merkle said.