January 27, 2011, 8:46 AM — Taking a page from Hollywood movies such as Tron and The Matrix, defense contractor Lockheed Martin has opened its own virtual reality and simulation lab in Colorado to test products and processes before actually creating them.
The purpose of the Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory (CHIL), based in Littleton, is to help cut the costs and development time for space technology, according to the company.
However, Lockheed spokesman Michael Friedman, quoted in Talking Points Memo, said, "The lab is versatile enough that it can be leveraged for any of our programs."
Defense contractor? Virtual reality? "Any of our programs"? Shouldn't we be worried, you know, just a little?
Based in Bethesda, Md., right next to Washington, D.C. -- where another type of virtual reality exists -- Lockheed is one of the major beneficiaries of Pentagon spending, earning more than half of its revenue from military sales. It easily topped the list of federal contractors in 2009, pulling down $35 billion in taxpayer money (No. 2 was Boeing, with $23 billion). Lockheed, by the way, also has numerous contracts with foreign governments.
TPM's Ruth Schneider writes that in a video accompanying the unveiling of the lab, Lockheed special projects director Jeff Smith says, "This technology is being used in the movie industry, and that's kind of fictitious. But this isn't fictitious. This is real."
Yes, we know, and the movies were scary enough.
Maybe I should just CHIL.
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.