Monday, December 03, 2012

Medical Device Simulators Increase Sales

If you're in the business of developing and selling medical devices, you're all too aware of the difficulties of demonstrating your product to prospective customers. Sure you can hook it up to a live patient that is suffering from the ailment that your device helps to treat, but that's not very convenient when you're on a sales call or the floor of a conference hall. Medical device simulators, a proven tool for training, are excellent when it comes to demonstrating your product. Virtual medical device simulators allow you to demonstrate your product to anyone, anywhere, and at any time - critical features for any sales person.

CAE Healthcare recently announced that they had sold their 1,000th iStan patient simulator to the Paris Simulation Center at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. This patient simulator costs approximately $150k and can be programmed to mimic medical conditions by displaying typical symptoms, and then responding to treatment. Includes realistic:
  • Bodily fluids and secretions
  • Jugular vein distention
  • Lung, heart, and bowel sounds
  • Articulated skeletal structure
It's common knowledge that you can have the greatest product in the world, but without an effective sales and marketing effort in place, you're success is far from guaranteed. If you're selling pens it's no problem to demonstrate your product under any circumstances,  but if your product is a piece of equipment that works in conjunction with a human body suffering from a disease, it's a lot harder to show someone how it works. This is where virtual simulators come into play, by providing the means to quickly and effectively show a lead your product in action, can directly lead to more sales.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Virtual Reality in Healthcare Market to Reach $2.43 Billion by 2018

Global Industry Analysts Report: Demand for Innovative and Efficient Surgical Systems Drives the Global Market for Virtual Reality in Healthcare.

Global Industry Analysts (GIA) recently announced the release of a global report on virtual reality in the healthcare industry. The report determines that the demand for simulation-based medical training will drive the market for virtual reality in healthcare, and projects that the global market for healthcare simulator-based training will reach US$2.43 billion by the year 2018. The report also points to the ever-increasing performance and reliability of training simulators, the decreasing cost of high-power computing, and the current adoption rate of virtual reality technology in the healthcare sector over the past decade.

Within the medical industry, the need to improve training and efficiency while reducing costs is as important as in any other industry. Virtual training simulators are one of the most effective methods to provide the necessary training and instruction, while removing many of the barriers to entry due to cost and risk.

The report is titled "Virtual Reality in Healthcare - A Global Strategic Business Report" and includes comprehensive analytics for the United States, Asia-Pacific, Canada, Europe, Japan, and 'The Rest of the World'. The report provides historic data for an insight into market evolution, growth drivers, market challenges, key issues, technology trends, and recent product innovations. The report also includes annual sales estimates and projections for the global market for the next 6 years (present - 2018).

Montefiore Medical Center: "Criterion-Based (Proficiency) Training to Improve Surgical Performance"

A recent report title "Criterion-Based (Proficiency) Training to Improve Surgical Performance" completed by Montefiore Medical Center is available from the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. The report determines that current requirements for surgical proficiency do not properly address the individual surgical capabilities of students, and that simulation-based training could vastly improve the skills of these surgeons-in-training before they ever operate on a living patient. The study's Principle Investigator, Dr. Marvin P. Fried, MD, FACS, University Chairman Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Montefiore Medical Center says:

"We have been studying this subject since 2000 and the results of each of our studies have shown that technical abilities are highly individualistic, skill levels progress at varying speeds. Simulation training is an invaluable tool in creating a competent surgeon in a safe and controlled environment, which ultimately helps to ensure patient safety and produce the best outcomes."

Surgical simulators allow for additional training without the need for live patients and operating rooms, vastly improving healthcare safety and efficiency.

3D Heartbeat Simulator Visualizes Pulsation and Disease

The National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan recently released a virtual heartbeat simulator running on typical off-the-shelf laptops, that is capable of simulating complex pulsations of the heart. Until now, accurately simulating heart pulsation in real-time 3D has taken offline super-computers to complete the job. With technology speed and power always increasing, off-the-shelf lap tops and gaming software-based simulators are now able to get the job done online, faster and more effectively.

Using a shape matching technology the software divides the heart into 7,000 individual shapes with bounding edges and constraints. The simulator allows trainees to simulate virtual heart attacks and heart diseases and take cross sections to examine and study a complex organ under a variety of conditions.

Medical training simulators can now provide highly realistic virtual learning environments that are safe and cost-effective, and allow for repeated practice-until-perfect, increasing the skill and proficiency of future surgeons. Training simulators include operator performance metric tracking systems, allowing trainees and instructurs to quickly identify what areas they need to focus on. In additional, sales and marketing staff can benefit from having a virtual product to demonstrate, rather than having to schedule real-world demonstrations on live patients.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Maritime Navigational Training Simulator Surge

Maritime Navigational Training Simulators Maximize Efficiency and Optimize Productivity

5-10 years ago you would have had a hard time finding many 3D simulators, that focused on maritime-based activities, that realistically simulated fluid dynamics and water-based physics at a sufficient level to provide the realism required for 3D training simulators. Today, with the speed and horsepower of computer processors and graphics cards increasing exponentially, coupled with hardware becoming more affordable, 3D training simulator developers can now produce more maritime-based training simulators for clients than ever before.

Over that last 10 years, the US Navy has significantly increased its reliance on "synthetic training", though there are still limitations in regards to real-world training, demonstrating the ongoing need for maritime simulator advances, and future opportunities for simulator developers. A June 2012 report, written by the US Government Accountability Office (an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress and is often called the "congressional watchdog") titled Navy Training: Observations on the Navy's Use of Live and Simulated Training, states that the Navy
"believes that effective training requires an efficient balance of live and synthetic approaches".
To this end, the Navy has developed the networked multi-user Navy Continuous Training Environment, allowing for the distribution of virtual training scenarios to its ship, submarine, and aircraft simulators. The report determines that
"training simulators should be used to replace live training to the maximum extent possible where training effectiveness and operational readiness are not compromised".
Combining both shiphandling, navigation and operations features, the simulator provides virtual training for maritime navigational missions from end to end.

Recent Maritime Training Simulators

The Navy Construction Battalions began using a new simulator in July, 2012 at their training facility in Gulfport, Mississippi. The simulator helps train operators of Link Belt HTC-864 and LS-108H construction cranes. The training simulator recreates challenging scenarios, that would be far too dangerous, risky and impractical for operators to train for in the real-world.

Last month the Great Lakes Maritime Academy ordered a ship simulator that allows their students to train without burning diesel fuel, and without having to leave the academy, located in Traverse City, MI. The simulator mirrors the controls and characteristics of  a number of ships, water ways, and weather conditions.

Great Offshore of India, an offshore oilfield service provider, recently launched an offshore vessel and crane handling simulator. The simulator allows operators to train for ship handling, navigation and propulsion systems, as well as the Global Maritime Distress Safety System.

Maritime Training Simulator Centres

Two weeks ago the Wallem Maritime Training Centre in The Philippines purchased a Full Mission Bridge Simulator from NAUTIS. The simulator allows trainees to learn ship-handling and maneuvering in a virtual environment, leading to better effectiveness and efficiency of bridge navigation teams in the real-world.

Maritime Training Centre

The Maritime Simulation and Resource Centre in Quebec is a leader in training and development of skills, with a unique expertise in navigational safety of North America. 

Maritime Simulation and Resource Centre

The Maritime Simulation and Resource Centre's "state-of-the-art multidisciplinary navigation simulator can interact with up to 300 vessels at a time, and mimic difficult ship-handling circumstances, including reduced visibility, winds, changing currents, docking/undocking, narrow channel maneuvers encompassing bank and squat effects."

Maritime Simulation and Resource Centre

Maritime navigational training simulators closely mirror real-world equipment, conditions, and scenarios. These safe, cost-effective, and risk free virtual training environments lead to maximized efficiency and increased productivity in real-world maritime operations.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Flight Simulators Skyrocket

The demand, use, and adoption of flight simulators is skyrocketing.

The aviation industry has always been a leader in the use of training simulators, and they continue to push simulators to the forefront of training. A recent BBC New article, Flight Simulator Development Set to Soar, includes an interview with David Ownes, senior director of flight crew training at Airbus, who predicts the number of full-flight simulators will double in the next 10 to 20 years.
  • There are currently 900 full-flight simulators in the world, estimated to double by 2032..
  • By 2032, the number of jet airliners will double, to 40,000.
  • By 2032, 517,000 new pilots will require training.
"The demand for training seems destined to increase significantly over the next 20 years as air travel grows, and the full-flight simulator is a vital part in the support of this growth."
Globally, as airline travel is predicted to continue to increase over the next 20 years, the aviation industry is forecasting unprecedented growth. Manufacturers that provide training for operators, airlines that have their own training centres, and third-party training facilities all around the world are all scrambling to buy as many simulators as they possibly can at the moment.

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Interview with David Ownes, Airbus Senior Director of Flight Crew Training

Crash Shows Need For Simulators

A recent Air France crash, in which an Air Bus A330-200 jetliner plunged from 38,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean, demonstrates the need for more realistic flight simulators that are capable of simulating the violent nature of aerodynamic stalls. A recent Bloomberg News article, Air France Crash Shows Need for Realistic Flight Simulators, reports that the FAA may soon require simulators to realistically portray stalls so that pilots experience realistic virtual portrayals of stalls in their training and learn how to react correctly. Simulators have the ability to recreate the surprise and confusion pilots face in real-life situations, a component that is critical to proper training.

South Africa Air Force Helicopter Simulator Cuts Costs

A recent Engineering News article, Helicopter Simulator to Boost South African Air Force Training While Cutting Costs, reports that Eurocopter recently unveiled the first full flight helicopter simulator in South Africa, a full motion simulator with six degrees of freedom, allowing it to completely reproduce the motions of a Eurocopter AS332 Super Puma helicopter. The simulator will provide valuable training as well as significantly cut the helicopter training costs, since training in the simulator costs approximately 25% of training in a real-world helicopter.

Aviation Growth Equates to Simulator-Based Training Growth

With the surge in growth of the aviation industry, the simualtor-training industry is set to follow in close succession. If, as expected, the number of jetliners swells to 40,000 by 2032, the there will be a need for about 517,000 new pilots in the next 20 years, and flight simulators will provide a considerable amount of the training they will require. Flight simulators allow pilots to train on a more frequent basis and for more specific maneuvers and emergency procedures, training that is essential when it comes to aviation safety. With the average flight simulator costing $25 million USD to purchase, and another $1 Million to maintain anually, it's estimated that the flight simulator market will be worth at least $25 billion USD over the next 20 years.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

3D Training Simulators for Oil Rig Operators

It's commonly known that immersive 3D simulators are one of the best ways to train heavy equipment operators, and offshore oil rigs are some of the heaviest pieces of equipment out there. Simulators allow trainees to master the controls of these massive machines that they will be operating, as well as learn all of the techniques and knowledge that will be required of them on a real rig. Simulation-based training allows operators to learn the necessary skills and practice them until they are mastered, all in a safe and risk-free virtual environment.

One of the largest and most complicated pieces of heavy equipment to operate is an offshore oil rig. Proper operation of these rigs is imperative, as exemplified by the Deepwater Horizon blowout and subsequent catastrophe that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. This accident caused the death of 11 workers, injuring 17 others, and spilled approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil into the ocean, equating to significant damage, both financially and environmentally. When the risks are this high, proper training is of the utmost importance, and 3D training simulators are helping to produce operators that can perform their jobs faster, safer, and more efficiently.

Oil Rig Operator Training Simulator

After the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010, new Federal Safety and Environmental Management Systems rules were put in place that mandate that employers provide more safety and operations training to their employees, and 3D training simulators are playing a big part in providing that training. Norweigan oil services company, Aker Solutions, recently showed off their oil rig operator training simulator, that will help produce highly-qualified operators.

Oil Rig Operator Training Simualtor

Oil Rig Training Simulator

Drilling, Well Control, and Crane Operator Simulators

Transocean, the world's largest offshore drilling contractor, recently opened a 2 world-class training centers in Brazil that include training simulators for drilling, well control, and crane operators.
“It’s vital that we continue to deliver efficient and effective solutions to our customers’ drilling needs, and our offices and training center support this goal by developing our people to be the best they can be.” - Steve Newman, President and CEO of Transocean.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Transocean has opened another facility that will provide training for 1,200 personnel a year, with more than 20 different simulation-based courses. Currently the equipment includes a crane simulator, conventional drilling simulator, and a well-control simulator, with two cyber-chair drilling simulators in development.

Transocean Drilling Simulator

Well Intervention Simulator

Shell recently launched their well intervention simulator, at the Shell Exploration & Production International Centre in Rijswijk, The Netherlands. Part of their Advanced Well Control Course, the simulator focuses on command-and-control types of scenarios, in addition to specific equipment operation. Shell believes that by incorporating simulator time into their curriculum, students have an increased level of engagement and the learning experiences are enhanced.
Well Intervention Simulator

Oil Rig Training Simulator Return on Investment

With all of the inherent risks imposed by oil drilling, it's no wonder that so many companies are turning to 3D training simulators to help prevent costly accidents. Operator skill levels can be taught, measured, and assessed in a risk-free virtual world where accidents don't cost millions of dollars, damage equipment and the environment, and cause injury or death. A well-trained workforce is more likely to increase a company's revenue and decrease the number of real-world mishaps.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Plastic Surgery Simulators Increase Number of Procedures

Plastic surgery might not be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about 3D simulators, but lately there have been a number of 3D surgery simulators to come along and make news. When people choose to have augmentation surgery, they're spending a considerable amount of money and taking a lot of risk and faith that the end result will be positive. Interactive 3D simulators help patients make informed decisions by seeing what they'll look like before the operation takes place, and are more likely to end up liking what they see after the surgery is complete..

3D Plastic Surgery Simulator
3D Plastic Surgery Simulator

Vectra 3D Imaging System

Vectra 3D is one these products that is allowing doctors and patients to preview a procedure's results, before the operation takes place. Patients are able to feel more comfortable undergoing a procedure if they've already experienced the results virtually, leading to an increase in augmentation consultation to surgical appointment conversion rates. The software allows for the visualization of the end-result of a number of different operations, including:
  • Breast Augmentation
  • Body Contouring
  • Rhinoplasty
  • Face Lift 
  • Cleft Lip Surgery 
The Vectra 3D system uses 6 high resolution digital cameras and an interactive sculptor application that allows physicians to model a patient's body, and then simulate the estimated results of the operation in question.

3D Breast Augmentation Surgical Simulation Video

Crisalix's e-Stetix 3D Plastic Surgery iPad App

Earlier this month, Crisalix launched the first touch-screen plastic surgery simulator iPad app. Utilizing the cloud-based simulation system, e-Stetix 3D, the program allows surgeons to simulate procedures including:
  • Breast Augmentation
  • Implant Replacement
  • Fat Injection
During consultations, surgeons and patients can experience simulated surgeries together, discussing options in virtual real-time, allowing patients to more clearly visualize the results and feel comfortable with the operation. Recommended by the International Confederation for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery (IPRAS), the application is available for download from iTunes:

Intuitive Surgical, da Vinci Surgical System

Another helpful use of 3D simulation in the medical field is Intuitive Surgical's, da Vinci Surgical System, a robotic surgical system designed to perform complex procedures though a minimally invasive approach. Surgeon's control the robotic arms from a console that includes a 3D HD Vision System that provides a surgeon with real-time high definition 3D video, for a more accurate level of depth perception during a robotic surgery.

3D Plastic Surgery Simulator

Dimensional Media 3D Surgical Simulator

Dimensional Media Assocs 3D Surgical Simulator leverages interactive holograms, allowing surgeons to touch and feel the patient, even though they are nothing more than light projected into space. Surgical trainees can jump right in to heart surgery, preforming procedures on the holographic patient in safe and risk-free environment.

3D Holographic Surgery Simulator