NATICK, Mass. -- Researchers from the Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center are supporting ongoing testing of an augmented reality headset called the "Integrated Visual Augmentation System," or IVAS. CCDC Soldier Center is also providing test design guidance for the effort.

Specifically, as part of ongoing human factors testing, CCDC SC's Human Factors Team and Biomechanics Team are providing logistical and subject matter expertise to Product Manager IVAS, part of Program Executive Office Soldier, or PEO Soldier, and industry.

The test team -- comprised of members from PM IVAS, industry, and CCDC SC -- is using a mobility assessment tool called the Load Effects Assessment Program -- Army, or LEAP-A, to evaluate IVAS.

IVAS is designed to increase Soldier lethality, mobility and situational awareness by providing enhanced night and thermal vision capabilities, map displays, and data collection capabilities.

LEAP-A provides researchers with a reliable method to measure the impact of clothing and individual equipment, or CIE, on Soldier performance. The LEAP-A platform consists of a series of obstacles and mission-relevant tasks/activities that resemble challenges that warfighters face in current combat situations.

During a testing event held in May at CCDC SC, researchers used the LEAP-A obstacle course to test two prototype versions of the IVAS. During the event, researchers focused on the stability of the systems on the heads/helmets of Soldiers.

"The prototypes are being tested for data on Soldier head movement during the performance of physical tasks," said Blake Mitchell, an engineering psychologist and team leader for the Human Factors Team in the CCDC Soldier Center's Soldier Performance Optimization Directorate. "Studying the relationship between the head and the helmet and the equipment will help improve the product."

CCDC SC -- formerly the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center -- is a pioneer and long-term expert in the advancement of human factors and human systems integration. These domains are integral to the enhancement of Soldier performance and lethality.

CCDC SC is dedicated to using science and technology to ensure America's warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. CCDC SC supports all of the Army's Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the CCDC SC's chief areas of focus. The center's science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. CCDC SC is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers' performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.

Master Sergeant Marc Krugh, senior enlisted advisor to PM IVAS, PEO Soldier, noted the importance of CCDC SC's expertise.

"Utilizing CCDC SC at Natick allows us to work with government experts and industry experts on a facility that has stood the test of time with proven results to increasing Soldier lethality," said Krugh.

During the testing, industry researchers collected form, fit and function data on the prototype systems.

"The LEAP-A course allows for consistency in human factors evaluations of form, fit, and function of the IVAS prototypes," said Krugh.

In addition to LEAP-A testing, the event held at CCDC SC also included 3D scanning of Soldiers with different weapon and optic systems to facilitate compatibility in future development of the IVAS.
Industry also conducted extensive interviews with Soldiers regarding load carriage and load placement.

"Soldier input is a big part of the effort," said Mitchell.

"Soldier knowledge, expertise and experience cannot be replicated in a lab or on a computer," said Krugh.

Industry has continued to learn directly from Soldiers who will be using the device and will continue to do so as development of the hardware and software for IVAS progresses.

"Our culture is grounded in understanding the people who use our products," said Y.K. Cheong, a principal human factors engineer working for industry. "We want to be Soldier-centered, to engage directly with Soldiers in a representative ecology. By working with Natick/CCDC SC, we can design toward improving Soldier performance and optimizing comfort."

CCDC SC is expected to participate in additional IVAS testing events in the future.