So here’s a story that brings the use of virtual reality that bit closer to the Hollywood fantasies of l33t computer hackers. DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) have apparently been working for the last 2 years on a user interface to visualise the complexities of modern data networks to help humans detect, investigate and react to cyber terrorism threats.
At a recent DARPA Demo day (how can I get an invite to that!?), they demo’d the system to WIRED magazine which uses the Oculus Rift and the Razer Hydra to enable the processing and navigation of this data more intuitive for operatives tasked with fighting these threats. The interface is just one part of a software platform codenamed ‘PlanX’ (yes, really).
Visually, the interface bear a passing resemblance to 2013’s VR Jam Winner and soon to be full game Ciess. The demo (as seen in the above video) was structured much like a video game, requiring you to select missions, carry out network scans and so on with your target networks represented as a sphere of nodes, navigated using the Hydras.
It’s interesting to see such ‘left at the traffic lights’ thinking from a government body, but then I guess that’s precisely DARPA’s remit. Just how useful the system might be in reality is another question. A UI is one thing, but ultimately actions on a network require low level navigation through switches, routers and firewalls—requiring a serious amount of homogeneous thinking from network sysadmins to bring to life.