The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing a project called 'Plan X' to help soldiers combat cyber attacks.
The agency said the goal of the project is to have soldiers enter a visualized version of cyberspace to fend off enemy attacks, and that it will be available to the Department of Defense and the U.S. military's Cyber Command in October 2017, according to The Verge.
Frank Pound, program manager for Plan X, said the goal of the project is to "get rid of the keyboard." Soldiers would be able to use technologies with intuitive interfaces to defend themselves against computer attacks.
Pound told the American Forces Press Service recently that his team was working on the Plan X system so it could support over 300,000 users. He added that he wanted a system "in every military installation, every combat information center on a ship, and at the tactical level in tactical operations centers."
Pound added that his team is looking to help the military understand how cyber effects work and the kind of collateral damage they can cause, Fort Leavenwoirth Lamp reported. Online sources say that a cyber effect is capable of manipulating, denying, disrupting, degrading, and destroying computers, information or communication systems, networks, and virtual or physical infrastructure that are controlled by information systems or computers, along with the data on the systems.
"A cyber effect could cause damage to an adversary's network or to a hospital next door," Pound said. "We want to make sure when we deploy a cyber effect at an adversary that there's no collateral damage. Right now, that (capability) really doesn't exist, except in small enclaves."
Plan X includes a holographic touch table, which is reportedly able to create a real-time 3D holographic image with the need for glasses. The U.S. Department of Defense said members of the military can use the table to visualize computer networks, interact with assets, and plan counter-attacks, The Verge reported.
Pound said the human element is needed for the project, since humans can solve problems that automated response systems cannot.
"We want human beings to be able to step in and answer the really hard questions that computers aren't so good at answering right now," he said.
Plan X was announced in 2012, but DARPA has only been working on the project for the past eight months, The Verge reported.
Pound also said that the project could possibly have a use for civilians.
"The ideal of a virtual world and being able to act with it and walk around in it would translate nicely into Internet terms," he said.