Bengaluru: Five young techies will soon board a flight from the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru to Lucknow carrying a very special virtual reality (VR) simulation pack they developed for sniper rifles.
Their destination will be DefExpo2020, set to begin on February 5. Their motto is to tell the world that ‘Make in India’ is very much doable. And, they are out to disarm the cynics while at it.
These young engineers are from Xarpie Labs, a visualisation and simulation firm creating immersive technology solutions using digital reality. The word Xarpie comes from the synthetically constructed language Lojban – which means –visualization not limited to sight.
Onmanorama interacted with the vibrant team including Ankith Adhyapak (23), Anuj Natraj (23), Yashaswi Shivanand (35), Sahil Suri (26) and Naveen Reddy (35) to understand the nuances of the unique product they developed in just under three months.
Named XAR Sniper Trainer, the VR pack is purpose-built for two real weapons – namely, sniper rifles Saber and Viper – developed by SSS Defence, a sister concern of Xarpie, although it can be adapted for other rifles as well. SSS Defence designs and builds complete platforms for individual and crew-served weapon systems.
Bridging the gap
During a visit to the Xarpie facilities, the young team impressed on us that both the Saber and Viper rifles have been fired and tested by members of the armed forces. SSS Defence is also in touch with the Infantry Directorate to elaborate on the advantages of using the home-grown sniper rifles.
The sniper rifle simulation was planned as a collective initiative between Xarpie Labs and SSS Defence to bridge the gap from training to field readiness of the armed forces or security agencies.
Their pet simulator has so far achieved bullet, weapon and environmental mechanics which have helped induce ‘close to reality’ firing scenarios. Asked about the challenges faced while putting together the VR pack, the youngsters said they had to overcome the general scepticism that such technology could not be developed locally.
“The ‘feel’ of the gun was integral to the design of the VR package. Once the ease of use was achieved, getting crucial and accurate feedback from experts was the obvious next step,” says Murali Arikara, CEO, Xarpie Labs.
At DefExpo, his boys will demonstrate the importance of virtual training and how beneficial it can be in preparing our forces.
Despite modernization bringing in sweeping changes to the training patterns of Indian Army, field training for snipers in many cases has remained a relative luxury.
The VR pack from Xarpie promises to train marksmen in a controlled and cost-effective environment with an increasing scenario and environment complexity.
The bullet dynamics and modular approach of the simulation environment coupled with actual sniper hardware are being claimed as the USPs of the Xarpie VR pack. It can be modified and put to use for a range of weapons and environments.
Murali says leading the young brigade of VR warriors with ideas paradropping at will is a refreshing experience.
“The prototype VR sniper simulator was developed in an intense three- month period by a team of young engineers. It is a testament to the exponential value of mentorship, skills development and collaboration to build world-class products and solutions,” says Murali.
He said the team’s ambition is to fulfil the ‘Make in India’ vision through the development of immersive technology solutions for the world.
Interestingly, most of the young team members at Xarpie are hardcore gamers while some are into football, biking and music.
The team is readying to release simulators for different weapon platforms. Each of these packs will include a range of environments and ballistics, which are closely integrated with actual hardware.
(The writer is an independent aerospace and defence journalist, who blogs at Tarmak007 and tweets @writetake.)