Can satellite deliver immersive AR/VR on the battlefield? – A Q&A with Masters of Pie

We’re entering a very interesting and exciting time for the satellite and space industries. The high-latency and low-throughputs that many recollect when they think about satellite communications are well in the rearview mirror. A new age of fiber-like speeds, large bandwidth and low latency connectivity is upon us.

Today, new constellations of High Throughput Satellites (HTS) are being launched at Geostationary Orbit, as well as other orbits closer to Earth, including the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). The low-latency, high-throughput services from MEO are opening the door to fiber-like connectivity from space, delivered to practically anywhere on the globe.

This is unprecedented. So unprecedented that many in the military haven’t even begun to consider the types of high bandwidth applications and solutions that they could roll out and deploy in-theater and in the field. It’s not their fault, the connectivity and bandwidth was never available to them before and probably never seemed like a resource they would have available to them – until today.

In light of this, the Government Satellite Report has been sitting down with some of the solution and application providers that are creating cutting-edge, new innovations that could be extremely useful for the military and the warfighter if deployed in the field. In the resulting series of Q&A articles with these incredible innovators, we highlight the potential benefits of these new technologies, discuss ways they can help the military accomplish its mission, and discuss how high throughput, low latency satellite communications can deliver those advantages in-theater.

In our first interview in this series, we sat down with Matt Ratcliffe, the Co-Founder and CPO of a very cool, very innovative company, with a very unusual name. Matt helped start Masters of Pie, a company with an extremely innovative AR/VR collaboration solution. During our discussion, we talked about how the military could utilize their solution, Radical, and how satellite could help make it available at the tactical edge.

Here is what he had to say:

Government Satellite Report (GSR): Can you tell our readers a bit about Masters of Pie? How did the company get its start? How did it get its name? Is there any actual pie involved?

Matt Ratcliffe: Masters of Pie is a software company which began life using gaming technologies for enterprise purposes. The name is actually randomly generated, but we have become quite fond of it. It represents our ability not to take ourselves too seriously and to have fun building new work tools of the future. However, we do love pie and often can be seen sharing pies at our exhibitions or even in the board room!

GSR: What do Masters of Pie’s solutions – including the Radical Platform – enable enterprises to do that they couldn’t before? How do they enable collaboration and problem solving?

Matt Ratcliffe: We began developing prototypes for immersive (VR/AR) collaboration over 3 years ago. We took these prototypes out to some of the leading aerospace and automotive customers in the world and witnessed a common problem in these organizations.

The first problem being silos of complex data (often 3D) that take a lot of time and effort to share across departments and disciplines. The other problem we observed was designers and nondesigners had to try and speak the same “language” and often resorted to PowerPoint as the lowest common denominator, which is poor when working with 3D “digital twins.”

By developing a collaboration platform like Radical that could take this heavy-duty data and share it live with anyone in the world in real-time, combined with an easier interface that immersive technology provides, we can see huge improvements across design, assembly and training in many different industries.

GSR: What could some of the military applications be for a solution like this? Could this be used in the field for service and maintenance of military vehicles/weapon systems?

Matt Ratcliffe: One of the popular use cases we are currently developing is the ability to combine a user in the field with a remote agent who has access to all the CAD and associated meta data back at H.Q.

In a military application, we could easily see an engineer on-site repairing a vehicle or piece of hardware, using holographic CAD to rapidly understand how to assemble/disassemble rather than trying to decipher a manual. They can then bring a relevant expert in real-time to provide even richer information and rapidly accelerate the process.

GSR: Could it play a role in telemedicine/telehealth and delivering medical treatment for deployed warfighters?

Matt Ratcliffe: Indeed, it could. Similar to the use case above, medical data could be shared in real-time with a remote expert who can walk the medic through complex treatments step-by-step.

GSR: What are the network/connectivity requirements for a solution like yours? Is a high-speed, high-throughput, low-latency connection necessary for an optimal experience?

Matt Ratcliffe: The technical challenges of immersive(VR/AR) collaboration are that the devices themselves need very high frame rates in order to provide realistic holograms or virtual environments.

If you combine this with very heavy data sets (sometimes in the gigabytes) then you will need hardware that can provide high bandwidth, high-throughput and low latency. We see this technology now in active development and being deployed, so we feel confident there will be an efficient backbone in place once immersive collaboration becomes utilized in the very near future.

GSR: In many of the places where the government and military operate, secure, high-bandwidth connections are often unavailable, insecure, compromised or otherwise denied. In those instances, could a high-throughput, low-latency satellite connection enable access to your solution?

Matt Ratcliffe: With Radical we spent a considerable amount of time building a solution that meets very high stringent security needs and as such we are currently testing our collaboration system with the military in the US.

Our most – in our opinion – useful technology is our streaming solution that shares pixels rather than 3D meshes. This combined with full end-to-end encryption we feel, will give the greatest level of security for valuable 3D and 2D data.

Streaming over immersive collaboration has similar high frame-rate requirements, and as such, will need modern communication back ends to facilitate it – such as low latency, high throughput satellite communications.

For additional information about the benefits of high-throughput, low-latency satellite connectivity for the military, click HERE. For additional information about Masters of Pie and their applications, click HERE.

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