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Monday, Aug 8, 2022

VR Company Specular Theory Lands $4.5 Million Air Force Contract

Venice-based virtual reality software company Specular Theory Inc. secured a $4.5 million contract with the Defense Department to expand development of its training products for the Air Force.

The contract will fund the company’s Experiential Air Refueling Lightweight Simulator, which will provide virtual reality training to Air Force members on air-to-air refueling. The training will cover B-52, C-17 and KC-135 aircraft.

“The air refueling training Specular Theory produced has proven so successful that Air Mobility Command has asked to expand to multiple other aircraft,” Maj. Robert Buckley of the 97 Operations Group said in a statement. “The expansion of this training will absolutely transform the way the USAF trains its aircrew members, and the feedback from students and instructors alike has been exceptional so far.”

The simulator tracks how a student is performing, guides them on next steps and assesses their competence at air refueling. The simulator uses artificial intelligence instruction, adaptive learning and multiplayer functionality.

The company aims to expand the simulator to offer any type of training scenario.

Specular Theory has been awarded four other contracts with the Air Force covering flight training for pilots and refueling training for air crew. The company declined to release the total amount of contract funding it has received.

Founded in 2013, Specular Theory creates virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and AI technology for the consumer, defense and enterprise sectors. The company’s major clients include Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Paramount Pictures Corp., Google and Jeep.

For consumers, Specular Theory sells extended reality technology focusing on music, gaming and entertainment. Enterprise uses for the company’s technology include its project with Plaisir, France-based Zodiac Aerospace, which created virtual reality tours of an aircraft’s interior.

The company has received more than 15 awards for its technology since launching, including the first VR award at the 2016 Streamy Awards.

“Flight training has typically been managed by the aircraft manufacturer,” Specular Theory Chief Executive Morris May said in a statement. “But in reality, you wouldn’t learn to play golf from a golf club manufacturer. Using the latest in AI-driven immersive technologies, combined with an understanding of the way individuals learn, we are disrupting aircraft training at every level in every crew position.”


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