Tuesday, December 22, 2009

All we want for Christmas is a VisCube Immersive 3D Display

The VisCube multi-screen 3D display provides users with a cave-like immersive virtual reality experience. Equipped with a Wii-like motion-tracking wand, users can interact with the simulation that surrounds them.

VisCube Enables Surgeons to Practice Procedures Virtually

The University of Alabama, Birmingham has acquired a VisCube and plans to use it to allow surgeon trainees to practice complicated operations on virtual patients before they ever step into an operating room. The mechanical engineering department plans to write VisCube simulations for dentistry, physical therapy and engi­neering.

Friday, December 18, 2009

CSIRO Develops 3D Colonoscopy Simulator

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia's national science agency, has created a 3D colonoscopy training simulator that will enable trainee surgeons to interact with accurate computer-based simulations of the human colon. The simulator uses a modified clinical colonoscope and realistic haptic (force) feedback device to provide a lifelike clinical experience.

Rather than teach complex medical procedures like colonoscopy using real patients, surgical training simulations offer a safe and cost-effective training environment in which complicated procedures can be taught with no risk to patients.

Colonoscopy, considered the best examination for the detection and removal of precancerous polyps, is a difficult procedure to master, requiring trainee surgeons to perform 300 to 1,000 operations before reaching an expert level. Researchers at CSIRO's Preventative Health Flagship believe the simulator will help reduce the incidence of bowel cancer.

Read more about the CSIRO Colonoscopy Training Simulator.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Boeing Unveils New Visual Display For Simulation Applications

Boeing unveiled its Constant Resolution Visual System (CRVS) at The Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) this year. The CRVS, the company's newest visual display, helps simulation developers deliver immersive environments by providing a high-resolution "out-the-window" view for operators of equipment training simulations. The CRVS can be used for training operators of jets, rotorcrafts, or ground-based vehicles.

The CRVS will be production-ready in early 2010

"CRVS is unique because it offers the same high resolution throughout the entire viewing area, providing an uninterrupted field of view and unvarying target acuity," said Mark McGraw, Boeing vice president for Training Systems & Services. "It makes virtual training missions and other simulations more detailed and effective."

The CRVS's High Definition projector format is compatible with a wide variety of commercial-off-the-shelf projectors, and also uses significantly fewer projectors than other high-resolution displays, making it a more flexible and cost-effective solution.

Friday, December 11, 2009

BCIT Launches The CUBE

British Columbia Institute of Technology Launches The CUBE: Centre for the use of 3D simulation technology, taking teaching and learning to a new level.

With a US$1 million grant from Lockheed Martin and $380,000 in software contributions from NGRAIN Corporation, BCIT has launched The Cube.

BURNABY, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 11/02/09 -- It will transform the way instructors teach and the way students learn at BCIT. It will bring the workplace into the classroom and enrich curriculum - virtually.

The CUBE initiative places 3D simulations of expensive, rare, and leading edge equipment into the hands of BCIT students, anytime, anywhere allowing learners to explore complex components and systems in a 3D virtual world before they touch the real thing.

Read the entire press release

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Interactive 3D Equipment Simulation Saves U.S. Army Engineer School $14-million (USD)

I/ITSEC 2009, Orlando FL

Canadian firm NGRAIN announced today at I/ITSEC that the US Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood – which trains soldiers how to repair and overhaul construction equipment that supports ground missions – is achieving a $14-million (USD) savings each year by using interactive 3D equipment simulators. The savings has enabled the school to extend the curriculum to include training on new vehicle technology.

“With NGRAIN-enabled courseware in our classrooms, we are able to shave 12 hours off the 40-hour brake system training block,” explained Cecil Caldwell, Chief, Maintenance Training Division, Fort Leonard Wood, US Army. “With an annual training load of approximately 1,200 students, this one-and-a half day reduction in training time translates to more than $14-million in savings per year. We now apply this savings to deliver training for new vehicle technology, including wet brakes maintenance and repair.”


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Game of the Show: Virtual Battlespace 2

Although it was first released in 2007, Virtual Battlespace 2 by Bohemia Interactive seems to be the gold standard for virtual training simulations. This is the project that is referenced most consistently across the various sessions at the I/ITSEC conference.

The nice thing about this clip is that the specific simulation features are named as you go through the video.

Given this is for the military, there's a lot of shooting going on in this clip, but there's also a good deal of general features that you'd want to see in any simulation creation engine.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

IITSEC Training Simulation Conference - Day 0

A pre-conference pre-crowd shot from the Orlando IITSEC 2009 conference on training simulations.

The IITSEC 2009 schwag. Note the all-important Rockwell-Collins sponsored anti H1N1 hand sanitizer.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games

Check out the latest from Clark Aldrich, a great industry participant and thinker, "The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games". This is a combination encyclopedia, style guide, and survival guide for those interested in deploying or developing simulations. Clark has a great ability to find and describe common patterns across the wide array of simulations that exist.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I/ITSEC Conference on Training Simulations

If you're able, be sure to check out the I/ITSEC conference on training simulations. This is the largest conference that focuses exclusively on simulations and training. The show includes panels and tutorials and is relevant for both purchasers and developers of simulators and simulation technology.

If you can't make I/ITSEC, there's also the Serious Games Summit at the Game Developers conferences in San Franciso starting March 9th, 2010.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Creating Low-poly Models for Your Simulation

This post shows the process involved in getting your raw high-poly 3D assets into a form that is ready for a real-time interactive simulation. It's important to understand that this process is necessary and to factor in development time accordingly.

As an example, we'll show a few production images of the F-22 being developed for an aircraft deicing training simulation being built in partnership with Global Ground Support.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Custom Application Development and Sole Source Awards

The highly specialized nature of custom application development for training simulation software leads to strong partnerships and sole source awards. Global Ground Support's custom-developed simulator software has a function by function parity to their real-world equipment. This tight integration of hardware and software gives manufacturers who also offer associated simulation products a strong competitive advantage in the marketplace - no one else can offer software which so closely matches the manufacturers equipment.

According to Federal Business Opportunities:
NOTICE OF INTENT TO AWARD SOLE SOURCE: The 3rd Contracting Squadron, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska intends to award a sole source purchase order to Global Ground Support, LLC for the acquisition of a Global De-Icing Training Simulator required in support of the Elmendorf AFB Wing Flying mission. Global Ground Support is the only supplier of a de-icing simulator designed specifically for the de-icing vehicles used at Elmendorf AFB.

This purchase will be made under Simplified Acquisition Procedures and Other Than Full and Open Competition as authorized by FAR 13.501. The anticipated award date is 19 Aug 2009. Please note that this is not a request for competitive proposals. However, all interested parties who believe they can meet the requirements are invited to submit in writing complete information describing their ability to provide the product listed above. Deadline date for the submittals is 18 Aug 2009 at 4 pm Alaska Standard Time.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

ForgeFX Develops 3D Pig Farm Training Simulation for Pfizer Animal Health

ForgeFX partnered with Carthage Veterinary Services to develop the Pfizer Animal Health Virtual Pork Production Simulation, named Virtual Walking the Pens. Pfizer Animal Health’s dedication to the health and wellness of animals, and a commitment to research combine to help protect the health of farm animals and the productivity of livestock. The training and education taught by the simulator allows pork producers to help pigs stay healthy, resulting in a more profitable operation. This interactive 3D simulation allows users to work in a virtual 3D farm, diagnosing and treating pigs at the first sign of disease, which is the key to a successful pork production business.

This custom interactive 3D simulation, available in both French and English, allows Pfizer customers to do a virtual barn-walkthrough of a wean-to-finish farm, identifying and treating sicknesses in the barn. Once a player has identified issues they must take the appropriate action to correct the problem, or experience the consequences in the barn and the effect on their bottom line. The simulation allows the user to experience many different scenarios within the virtual environment, similar to those that pork producers deal with on a daily basis in the real world. Ranging from pigs with neurological problems, to clogged waterers and feeders, to Mulberry heart disease, the simulation provides a virtual barn for the users to work in, spotting and treating sick pigs. The user's score, determined by the level of profitability attained by the virtual farm, is tracked by the simulation and delivered at the conclusion of a session, along with assessments and recommendations for a higher level of efficiency.

The purpose of this training simulation is not to replace existing training, but to provide supplemental education to the existing training curriculum. The simulation is a great training tool for new employees as well as a valuable refresher for those who are already experienced in pork production. Knowing how to quickly identify and treat illnesses is crucial to running a profitable livestock farm. This 3D simulation provides a risk-free environment for farmers to experience the potential pitfalls of pork production and avoid them in the future, when real-world situations confront them. Farmers are able to experiment with different barn management techniques to find the approach that works best, something that is easy to do in a simulation, but not possible or practical in the real-world. Risks to livestock, personnel, and material consumption are removed in the simulation, making it a valuable tool for teaching and training.

Combining deep content expert knowledge with proven interactivity models, Pfizer Animal Health, Carthage Veterinary Services, and ForgeFX developed this 3D simulation that allows users to quickly grasp the controls and get to work in a virtual barn. The simulated barn is fully functional, including interactive water medicators, curtain controllers, fans, thermostats, feeders, mats, lights, and of course pigs. The simulation promotes education and improved health of all the animals in the operation.

Learn more and download the 3D simulation here

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Adobe Success Story: ForgeFX: Interactive 3D Simulations

ForgeFX creates competitive advantage for itself and clients with Adobe Director and Adobe Shockwave Player software.

Adobe Success Story - ForgeFX - Interactive 3D Simulations

Whether they need to train employees how to accomplish mission-critical tasks or educate potential donors or customers, many organizations are tapping into the power of interactive 3D training simulations and role-playing games. By providing a simulated experience, organizations can help employees, customers, and others learn by doing without the high costs and risks of learning in the field.

ForgeFX relies on Adobe software due to its flexibility and ability to deliver a rich, high-performance user experience. Offering cross-platform offline executable deployment and online browser-based delivery with the Shockwave Player, Director applications can easily be viewed on any computer, enabling superior mass distribution. Users have the convenience of either online or offline content consumption with the ubiquitous Shockwave Player, already installed on more than 450 million Internet-enabled desktops.

Adobe Success Story - ForgeFX - Interactive 3D Simulations

One of the main benefits of Director over many other development platforms is its real-time 3D rendering engine. Because Director is a high-level development environment, as opposed to a custom low-level one-off 3D rendering engine, 3D rendering code is delivered out of the box, allowing developers like ForgeFX to concentrate on game and simulation logic. Director also enables ForgeFX to build simulations that include complex physics-based realism.

The new NVIDIA PhysX engine in Adobe Director 11.5 allows us to expand and build advanced dynamic motion and interaction into our simulations and games resulting in a richer user experience. Advanced physics, real-time 3D rendering, and a solid, mature platform with a rock-solid runtime engine are several factors that make Director our primary development platform.

Read the full article which discusses a couple of recent projects developed by ForgeFX using Adobe Director.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Kran-Simulator 2009

Okay let's have some fun today! Kran-Simulator 2009 developed by Astragon, a German video game company, is a great interactive 3D simulation, serious game, and training simulation.

The game allows users to jump into a virtual crane, take the controls, and try their hand at moving million dollar equipment around. A task you'd never play around with in the real-world, but in a simulated environment with all risks removed, it becomes a fun game. The game is an effective interactive 3D simulation that allow users to quickly learn and practice the basic principles of operating a crane. Users that have 2 joysticks attached to their computers can take the experience a step further by interacting with the crane more closely to the way real-world crane operators do.

So are all crane operators using this game for training? Well if they aren't using any simulation-based training, they certainly should be using a product like this within their training curriculum before trying their hand at operating expensive equipment. The main problem with trying to use an off-the-shelf product like this for training is that it features a generic crane which may have different functionality and/or controls than the real-world crane does. To properly conduct simulation-based training for heavy machinery, a custom 3D simulator should be developed in order to mirror the real-world operations more closely. The Global Ground Support Deicing Simulator developed by ForgeFX is an excellent example of taking a serious game like Kran Simulator a step further, providing specific models of deicers within the virtual environment allows trainees to take skills learned in the simulated world to the real world where they are needed.

Download the free 130Mb demo and check it out for yourself.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Technology Enables Ground Support Equipment Training

Airside International article: Technology Enables GSE Training.

This article discusses the 3D training simulator ForgeFX developed for Global Ground Support. Airside International is a quarterly magazine aimed at airport authorities, airlines, equipment providers, and infrastructure developers. The article includes an interview with Jeffrey Walsh, Vice President of Sales and Service for Global Ground Support, Greg Meyers, President for ForgeFX, and Adam Kane, Technical Director for ForgeFX.

Global Ground Support offers the market the 3D simulation software developed by ForgeFX as part of a package with their equipment. The first simulator was delivered in December 2007 to JetBlue. The deicing simulation has been a huge success and has generated an incredible amount of interest. Global has a simulator with a customer who does not even have any of their trucks, but because the controls are very similar between competitors’ vehicles and their vehicles, they get a lot of the benefit from the 3D simulator.

It is possible to train a ground support operator to use a deicer correctly through simulation-based training in just 30 minutes. In the past, companies would take their new employees, put them through 8, 12, or 16 hours of classroom deicing training, then they would put them in a truck for one, two, or four hours depending upon the customer to teach them how to use the truck. Unfortunately, most of this training took place in August, September, or October. Those new employees might not actually spray an aircraft for several months, they then get into a very complicated piece of equipment in which to perform difficult tasks in a timely fashion. The only piece of equipment on the ramp that is more complicated to operate than a deicer is an aircraft, this clearly demonstrates the need for high quality training.

The training simulation goes beyond just teaching an employee how the controls of the truck work. It gets into the whys of the actual deicing process. It trains not only on truck operation but also on the processes and procedures involved in deicing an aircraft correctly, safely, and cost effectively.

Jeffrey Walsh, Vice President of Sales and Service for Global Ground Support, was able to take his 20 years of airline, airport, deicing, and flying experience; couple it with ForgeFX's simulation development expertise, to create a new deicing training program that brought deicing and simulators to the next level. Global Ground Support is striving to make this simulation equipment increasingly real every day. The next update to the simulator will show the fluid flowing off the wings. It will also have wind speed and wind direction and all sorts of other components that make it even more real. Simulations can never be too real.

Full article
: Technology Enables GSE Training
Project case study: Interactive 3D deicing training simulator.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

3D Fork Lift Training Simulator

3D game-based training simulator enhances forklift training. Developed by Etcetera Edutainment, a company that specializes in applying video game techniques and technologies to education and training situations.

Etcetera in partnership with the National Safety Council (NSC) has released a 3D game-based training simulation program to improve the effectiveness of forklift training. Forklifts are one of the most commonly found types of mobile equipment in industry today, and if not operated properly, they can be one of the most dangerous. Leveraging leading-edge video game technology, this training simulation delivers instruction in OSHA-compliant forklift safety standards and best practices by putting trainees through the paces by completing tasks that they would commonly find in a real work environment.

According to the company, the program delivers an immersive safety training experience suitable for new or experience forklift operators. The simulation helps companies achieve safety objectives and rely less on on-site training as the sole means of applying what has been learned. The lift truck allows trainees to drive in a virtual warehouse environment that is guided by a series of task-based practice lessons focusing on key forklift safety concepts. After completing practice lessons, the driver goes on to complete a final exam where their safety performance is tracked and recorded.

This training simulation is a cost effective and risk-free complement to traditional safety training material. The simulation allows operators to make mistakes without risking the health of employees or damaging property by testing critical operating techniques before driving a real-world forklift.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Firefighting vehicle manufacturer to develop interactive 3D training simulator.

Rosenbauer International will produce a training simulation for their high reach extendable turret-equipped fire trucks. High reach extendable turrets are used primarily in fighting airport and industrial fires. The turret is mounted on a hydraulic boom arm on the top of a fire truck, and is controlled via a joystick. The arm is able to penetrate aircraft fuselage and spray dousing agents onto fires within the plane's interior.

The training simulation will allow fire fighters to train in high reach extendable turret related scenarios, training that would not otherwise be possible to recreate in the real world, given the risk associated with fires, the cost of materials involved, and the wear-and-tear on equipment.

Following their mission to deliver innovative, high-value solutions to emergency responders, Rosenbauer's simulator will offer essential and valuable training for the fire fighters in the so-called 'hot seat,' who have to operate the high reach extendable turrets under stressful conditions where lives are at stake.

This fire fighting simulator, like our deicing training simulator, is a great example of interactive 3D simulations being used for training for mission critical situations. Allowing companies to conduct training that is safe, effective, cost efficient, and environmentally sound is a must in today's world - and interactive 3D simulations are a great way to provide that training.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Global Ground Support and ForgeFX Partner to Develop an Interactive 3D Deicing Training Simulator

San Francisco, CA, United States, 02/09/2009 - ForgeFX, a leading interactive 3D simulation and serious game developer, has produced and deployed an aircraft deicing training simulator for Global Ground Support's clients. The simulator allows airport ground support equipment operators to train for the deicing process with more flexibility and a lower cost than traditional training.

Interactive 3D Training Simulation

Ice, snow, freezing rain, and other contaminants can build up on an aircraft making it dangerous to fly. Deicing is a complex, multi-step process that if done properly returns the aircraft to a clean safe state.

Proper deicing is mission critical, requires a high level of dexterity and spatial relations ability, an intimate knowledge of the aircraft, and the impact of different weather conditions. The challenge is that training is costly, requires the availability of expensive equipment, and must be comprehensive, covering a wide variety of factors including plane type, weather conditions, time of day, wind speed, contamination type, etc.

Global Ground Support’s simulator, based on their model 2200TEAP, addresses these issues. The simulation allows the user to train across a variety of factors. The training simulation offers the ability for users to practice and take a performance test while deicing a virtual aircraft. The simulation tracks the performance of users and records their scores for review by the instructor. The simulation provides both an overall score, as well as a detailed score breakdown, for each simulation session. This scoring system encourages healthy competition among users while learning the correct procedures.

The operator sits in a virtual cab which is attached to a boom arm, which is attached to a truck. The operator of the simulation has full control over the 2200TEAP’s boom arm, cab rotation, truck location, nozzle settings, fluid selection, cab lights, type of plane, time of day, and weather conditions. This gives airlines the ability to train their operators without risking damage to the real-world equipment. Also, virtual training doesn’t use up consumables such as fuel and expensive fluids. Deicing operators must be careful when deicing an aircraft, since a collision between deicing equipment and a plane is costly. A collision requires planes to be grounded and flight delays - a costly mistake in reality becomes a valuable lesson when simulated.

Case Study: Interactive 3D Deicing Training Simulator

ForgeFX’s solid track record in the development of effective simulation products was key to Global Ground Support‘s selection of the ForgeFX team. Representing industry leaders such as Adobe, Pearson Education, Farmers Insurance, Heifer International, and Pfizer, ForgeFX consistently delivers interactive 3D simulations that help achieve their client’s project goals while optimizing their bottom lines.