Adaptive Instructor Aid for Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Enabled Classroom Training

Navy STTR 24.A - Topic N24A-T013
ONR - Office of Naval Research
Pre-release 11/29/23   Opens to accept proposals 1/03/24   Now Closes 2/21/24 12:00pm ET    [ View Q&A ]

N24A-T013 TITLE: Adaptive Instructor Aid for Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality Enabled Classroom Training

OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Advanced Computing and Software

OBJECTIVE: Develop a system for real-time monitoring of student performance and performance-driven instructional adaptation within an immersive (that is, virtual or augmented reality enabled) training experience.

DESCRIPTION: Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are becoming more common in Navy training as instructional media that provide visually immersive training conditions, both in the classroom for individual training and in team dynamic settings. This has the advantage of exposing the student to visual operational conditions that are motivationally immersive and hard to replicate or train to in purely live training. While VR and AR technologies are modern and alluring, use of these technologies alone does not ensure training effectiveness. Furthermore, their introduction may insulate an instructor from fully observing and adaptively interacting with the student, reducing natural and traditional student/instructor experiences. A body of knowledge in basic research addresses the effective use of VR/AR, including the need to monitor student performance and adapting the pace or content of instructional material based on this [Ref 1]. This STTR topic seeks to develop a VR/AR learning system that adapts to the student based on the competency of the studentís performance and yields a learning gain that is significantly better than current training methodologies. Toward this end, the aim is to develop a working prototype and a student performance measurement approach that can be generalized across a range of classroom adaptive training environments where VR and AR could be applied.

PHASE I: Determine a technical approach to monitor competency of student performance while using wearable VR or AR instructional media and use such information to inform and adapt instructional content. Determine the metrics to measure student performance shortfalls, and for assessing system training effectiveness. Include designs of baseline measures that would be administered before training and a comparison measure after introducing this new approach, using any current Navy Use Case. Phase I accomplishments will be presented to cognizant ONR Program Officers for feedback before initiating Phase II activity.

PHASE II: Apply the Phase I approach to a representative Navy classroom training environment where VR and/or AR are, or could be, used. Implement the technical approach in a prototype and collect metrics for baseline comparison. The government will provide a representative Navy VR/AR classrooms environment if the performing team does not have access to or insight into the content and design of Navy-relevant classroom settings.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Assess the training value of the approach developed in Phase II, comparing it with VR or AR-based training without the assessment and adaptivity of this approach. If the approach developed is demonstrated to be significantly better in training efficacy (speed and/or level of the studentsí content mastery) based on criteria agreed on by ONR and Fleet representatives, demonstrate the system to leadership in the Fleet Training Wholeness Program of Record.

Commercialization opportunities should be explored in Phase II and pursued in Phase III. Potential markets that would be interested in this technology include aviation, maintenance, law enforcement, and the medical field.


  1. Mayer, R.E., Makransky, G., & Parong, J. (In press). The promise and pitfalls of learning in immersive virtual reality. International Journal of Human-computer Interaction, Volume 39, 2023 - Issue 11: Trends in Adaptive Interactive Training Systems.
  2. Landsberg, C.R., Mercado, A.D., Van Buskirk, W.L., Lineberry, M. & Steinhauser, N. (2021). Evaluation of an adaptive training system for submarine periscope operations. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. 56(1), 2422-2426.
  3. Metzler-Baddeley, C., & Baddeley, R. J. (2009). Does adaptive training work?. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23, (2), 254-266.

KEYWORDS: Virtual reality; augmented reality; Adaptive training; Instructional media; immersive environments; classroom training


The Navy Topic above is an "unofficial" copy from the Navy Topics in the DoD 24.A STTR BAA. Please see the official DoD Topic website at for any updates.

The DoD issued its Navy 24.A STTR Topics pre-release on November 28, 2023 which opens to receive proposals on January 3, 2024, and now closes February 21, (12:00pm ET).

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Topic Q & A

1/10/24  Q. In conducting analysis on efficacy or reasonableness of our proposed solution for this topic, would it be unreasonable during Phase I to incorporate a limited development and testing of prototype applications? Phase II would aim for operational development and testing but during Phase I would it be reasonable to incorporate limited internal review of the technology?
   A. A prototype and internal testing in Phase I is reasonable and acceptable. However, no human subjects research should be conducted in Phase I.
1/3/24  Q. While we will develop and suggest a metrics to collect are there any key metrics or data points you wish to be collected during Phase 1?
   A. No. We want proposers to suggest the metrics and methodologies they think are most important and effective.
1/3/24  Q. Which headset platforms and AR/VR technologies are currently utilized by ONR and are relevant to this program?
   A. There are no specific headsets used at this time. Headsets are proposed based on needs of the program and thus we are not specifying a specific one for this STTR and look to proposers to recommend what they think is best based on their proposed methodology.
1/3/24  Q. Will the Phase 1 development be required to integrate with a specific AR/VR application, or is the objective primarily to develop and validate a learning methodology?
  • In the event that integration with an existing application is necessary, does this application already support integration through APIs or an expansion system? Alternatively, will additional development be required to enable integration with the student performance tracking system developed in Phase 1
  •    A. Integration with a specific AR/VR application is not required in Phase I. The objective of Phase I is to propose and demonstrate an adaptive training and assessment methodology for AR/VR applications. A specific use case will not be provided in Phase I and any use case can be used to showcase your proposed method. Specific use cases will be determined for Phase II at the end of Phase I and are likely to depend on the proposed methodology as some methods may work better for some subjects than others.
    12/30/23  Q. What XR media types are most valuable: physical spaces, spatial audio, spatial motor (manipulating objects in XR), etc? If all, what is the most important? Can you provide any additional details on the conditions you are trying to replicate in AR/VR?
       A. For Phase I the focus is on adaptive training and assessment methodologies that could be used in AR/VR technologies and a use case is not specified. We are leaving it up to proposers to provide suggestions on where they think their methodology would fit best. The Navy has use cases that span the range of physical spaces, spatial audio, spatial motor, and many more. Based on the methodology proposed and prototyped in Phase I, we will work with Navy stakeholders to determine the best use case for implementation in Phase II. Any use case can be utilized to showcase the methodology in Phase I.
    12/30/23  Q. Is there a need/requirement for XR training content authoring as part of this solution, or is the Customer expecting the contractor(s) to continue custom generating content after the software application is delivered? The inclusion/exclusion of a self-authoring component will affect how the immersive media is constructed and delivered which may impact how student performance is measured and adapted.
       A. Content authoring is not a requirement for the program, but is generally desirable. To avoid scope creep for this STTR, you can assume that what is delivered at the end of Phase II is the final product and any additional content (or authoring capabilities) needed would follow on in a Phase III effort.
    12/30/23  Q. What are the connectivity conditions and cybersecurity requirements for implementing a classroom solution? Will the classroom solution ultimately need to reside on the Flank Speed environment? Please share any other restrictions that would affect the types of headsets practical to use. Headset selection will impact what AR/VR features are available and what metrics can be measured.
       A. Cybersecurity rules will need to be followed, but will depend on the schoolhouse where the solution is implemented. Different schoolhouses have different requirements. Flank Speed is one potential environment that could be utilized, but I do not believe the technology will have to work in that environment as there are also standalone options and other schoolhouse training environments that may be used. For Phase I, the focus should be on the adaptive training and assessment methodology. The schoolhouse use case for Phase II will be determined based on this methodology as some methods may work better for some curricula than others. We will work with stakeholders in Phase I to determine the best implementation into the classroom for Phase II.

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