During the recent Super Bowl, Hyundai Motor America aired an emotional commercial that showed support for our military. It also showed how technology can be used to keep families connected across the world. Many people do not realize there are more than 150,000 U.S. military servicemembers deployed to over 150 countries.
Technology Evolution Brings Military Families Closer
For decades, military communications with family members in the U.S. was through letters, which took a couple of weeks to reach their destination. In the 1980s, communications greatly improved with the placement of dedicated phone booths on overseas military posts for servicemembers to call their families in the United States. A call from South Korea to the States cost a little over a dollar a minute.
GIs often placed their calls in cold phone booths with a waiting line outside. But they were grateful for the technology of international phones.
Now, we have email for instant written communication and Skype. With Skype, fathers and mothers on active duty away from home can see and talk to their children live from posts anywhere in the world.
Service personnel can even further their education online.
Using Technology, Hyundai Surprises Some Troops with Super Bowl Family Time
Hyundai and the Defense Department worked together to throw a Super Bowl party for soldiers stationed on a military base in Zagan, Poland. These soldiers were part of the recent deployment in early January 2017. The party included big-screen TVs and lots of food.
Three servicemembers were selected to watch the Super Bowl in individual 360-degree immersive TV pods. The concept was to make them feel as if they were sitting in Hyundai’s luxury box at the Super Bowl.
Like many maneuvers in the military, secrecy was involved. A news embargo prevented the media from releasing details of the 90-second ad named “Operation Better” until it aired at the conclusion of the game. While the individual soldiers enjoyed the action in the pods, they were surprised to see their families actually at the game in Houston, watching in similar pods.
The technology was similar to virtual reality, but without the need to use virtual reality headsets. The cameras were similar to 360-degree cameras, but the output was transmitted onto large surround screens inside the pods.
Around the holidays, we often see stories of service personnel reuniting with their children and families on a surprise leave home. This time, the event became a technological reunion because it was the families who popped up in the soldiers’ 360-immersion pods.
The real-time ad was rapidly produced and well planned, despite the challenge of maintaining secrecy. It showed amazing coordination and operational planning. The actual surprise “visit” occurred in the first quarter and the filming was edited in the second quarter. The third and fourth quarters were used for obtaining approvals from DoD, the National Football League and Hyundai.
Future Use Is Ripe for 360-Degree Immersive Pods
On-scene immersive training, such as for crime scenes or accidents, allows police and emergency medical technicians to learn by observing a situation remotely. EMT trainees, for example, can learn without interfering in a life-threatening situation. Police trainees can observe a crime scene without disturbing evidence.
The military could use immersive pods to train patrols to be alert before an incident happens and to identify activities that hinder their ability to operate effectively. These pods could train a soldier to identify indicators of a bomb planted in the ground or an ambush. The advantage is that no one gets hurt in the pods.
This new technology for communicating means that distance is no longer a problem. For situations where details are critical, the 360-degree cameras give investigative researchers a level of detail which has never been seen before.
What Technology Will Be Available in the Future?
“Operation Better” displayed an excellent use of emerging technology in new ways. It also gave corporate America the opportunity to show its appreciation for our military by showcasing ground-breaking technology. As technology continues to improve, our lives – both civilian and military – may see some amazing innovations.
About the Author
James R. Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. James has been involved in cyberespionage events from just after the turn of the century in South Korea, supporting 1st Signal Brigade to the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis as the first government cyber intelligence analyst. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence with the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, government contracting and civil service.
Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded its 43rd scholarship for national security students and professionals. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has also served in the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office after his active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba, in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” in 2016 “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea,” and a new book in 2017 “Secrets to Getting a Federal Government Job”.