This chapter has only lightly touched on the large number of solid, existing applications for virtual and augmented reality technologies within the aerospace and defense sectors. This advance stage of adoption and utilization in comparison to other areas is due to a variety of reasons, including well-defined, mission-critical needs (which ultimately drives a focused development agenda), budgets that support intensive multiyear research, development and problem-solving efforts, as well as the technology showing demonstrable results.
To this end, it is impossible to quantify the immense breadth and depth of the contributions of the Department of Defense and NASA to the current state of the art in virtual and augmented reality systems. From the start of their separate research and development efforts with these technologies in the 1960s and 1980s respectively and continuing to the present, their support of small businesses and university researchers in this field through product acquisition and grants, collaboration, and the sharing of subject matter knowledge and experts has been, and continues to be, absolutely vital to the field’s development. Some of the areas where their contributions are most notable include sensor technologies, user interface design, binaural audio, optical systems, and core research on human perception and performance.