Tuesday, August 27, 2013

GlobalSim Inc. Officially Becomes Kongsberg GlobalSim

GlobalSim, the wholly owned simulator subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime since 2008, is now officially Kongsberg GlobalSim. The name change represents a continued commitment by Kongsberg to provide virtual on-shore and offshore simulation-based training, as part of their core business offering.

Offshore Crane Training Simulator
Kongsberg GlobalSim Offshore Crane Training Simulator
Paal Aamaas, Vice President of Kongsberg Maritime Simulation:
"With Kongsberg GlobalSim now fully entrenched in the corporate structure we can offer even more value by bringing its unique approach to on-shore and offshore crane simulation into the Full Picture. Within simulation, the Full Picture approach ensures that our customers can offer integrated simulation training across navigation, automation and crane operation, providing benefits in safety, efficiency and preparedness for critical missions."
As listed on their web site, Kongsberg GlobalSim's corporate mission is:
"To provide affordable, effective crane simulation training to heavy equipment operations, specifically material handling, vehicle driving and a wide range of military operations. GlobalSim has pioneered the use of accurate physical models, immersive environments, and cost-effective technology to bring this high level of training to our customers."
Training simulators allow operators to practice for difficult, dangerous, and costly machine operations in a safe and cost effective virtual environment. Training simulators save money and reduce the number of accidents and delays.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

"Better Performance and Cost Data Needed to More Fully Assess Simulation-Based Efforts"

Last week the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their Report to Congressional Committees titled, "Army and Marine Corps Training: Better Performance and Cost Data Needed to More Fully Assess Simulation-Based Efforts". The report is in response to the increased use of computer-based simulators to train service members operating today's modern warfare technology, and is the third report they have produced to assess the services' mix of live and simulation-based training.

GAO examples of current Army and Marine Corps simulators and simulations.

While there's no doubt that simulators provides excellent learning environments that are cost-effective, the GAO recommends that the military services need to develop more strict metrics and methodologies in order to compare simulation-based, and live training, head to head. The report focuses on the efforts that will be required in a fiscally constrained environment in order to meet training requirements. While the assumption is that training simulators are less expensive than live training, the GAO report points out that without properly measured metrics it is impossible to show precisely how much more cost-effective they are.

Department of Defense Comments

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) only partially concurred with the recommendations of the report, agreeing that performance metrics would be useful when assessing the impact of simulation-based training, however they stated in their evaluation of the report that:
"Given the magnitude and scope of training tasks, varying competencies of the training audience, and ever-changing technology, the problem set contains many independent variables."
The DOD said they would study the problem set and develop a plan to include performance metrics to assess the impact of simulation-based training. They also said that they currently capture all of the relevant cost-based metrics required for decision making, however they agreed that having a more comprehensive collection of data would be helpful. The report concludes that without better data, the services lack the information they need to make informed simulation-based training investment decisions.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Energy Sector Turns to Simulation-Based Training

If you work in the energy sector, or follow its trends as an interested outsider, you're aware of the ever-increasing need for operator training and re-training. Increased regulations, the development of new and more complex power plants, and the conversion from coal-fired to gas-fired units all contribute to the ever-increasing need for top-level training of managers, engineers and operators. Simulators are providing the training that's required to meet ever-changing industry standards and increase plant performance.

Energy Innovation Center

Shell Oil has been investing in 3D simulators for years. Their ACE VR Center in Lutong, Malaysia has been allowing them to visualize massive sets of geophysical data in high-fidelity real-time 3D for years. So it should come as no surprise that the University of Wyoming recently opened their $25.4 million Energy Innovation Center this year, with donations by Shell, BP, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and Marathon Oil.
Shell Oil ACE VR Center
The center includes the Shell 3D Visualization Laboratory which features a four-walled virtual reality room where researches can study complex and spatially related data sets. The laboratory will allow energy companies to derive maximum value from resources by researching simulated oil, gas and water movements, and their interactions with each other.

Fossil Fuel Power Plant Simulators

GSE Systems provides Fossil Fuel Power Plant Simulators that deliver the high degree of knowledge and skill that is required in today's energy sector. The training simulators improve everything from faster plant start-ups, to fewer outages, to increased profitability.
Chuck Kelly of GSE Systems demonstrates the simulation of a gas-turbine generating station. Credit: Rob Felt
Taking into account a high level of daily plant profit, if a simulator can help a plant avoid any shutdown, it has the potential to pay for itself ten-fold in a single day. In addition to fossil fuel power plant simulators, GSE develops virtual training simulators for nuclear power and petrochemical plants that allow operators to learn by doing, without any real-world risk. GSE's multi-million dollar 3D simulation center at Georgia Tech includes an electric generating power plant for student teams to train in before entering the workforce.

US Department of Energy IGCC Power Plant Simulator

The US Department of Energy recently launched their latest immersive training simulator at the National Energy Technology Laboratory. Simulating an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant, the simulator leverages stereoscopic 3D that allows students the ability to move around the plant virtually while they train for operation.
Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle Power Plant Simulator
Operators learn the complex chemical process of coal-gasification with carbon dioxide capture, coupled with combined-cycle power generation, a difficult and dangerous process to train for in the real-world, but one that can be conducted safely and affordably using virtual training simulator technology.

Virtual training simulators provide a distinct advantage to people in, or entering, the oil and gas workforce. Simulation-based training allows trainees to study everything from refinery methodology, to control panel operation, to emergency plant shutdown procedures. Students learn to quickly and correctly solve common plant operating problems. Simulators can provide realistic training for an entire refinery team, while removing all of the risks, essential for everyone from supervisor to operator. When you need to develop core competencies, develop practical problem-solving skills, and secure a high-level of rapid technical communication across your entire team, virtual training simulators are clearly the way to go. In an environment where poor communication and performance can lead directly to costly mishaps, training simulators allow students to practice repeatedly for situations they'll likely encounter when the real-world stakes are high.

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Friday, August 02, 2013

Video Games Enhance Surgical Spatial Relations Skills

If you've ever taken the controls of a surgical training simulator, and tried to perform even the most basic procedure on your first attempt, you're aware that it's a little more complicated than that. In addition to an understanding of the controls and tools at your disposal, you also need a high level of hand-eye coordination plus a good feel for the spatial relationships between objects in the virtual environment. The same can be said for many popular video games these days, many of which come with interactive tutorials and detailed instructions manuals. As the similarities between training simulator and video game technology and methodology continue to interweave with each other, it should come as no surprise that there is cross-over when it comes to the skills learned in one discipline being applied to the other.

A study conducted by the Department of Surgical Sciences at Sapienza University in Italy, titled: "Play to Become a Surgeon: Impact of Nintendo WII Training on Laparoscopic Skills", studied the influence of four weeks of structured Nintendo WII by a group of residents in General, Vascular and Endoscopic Surgery. Half the group received WII training, while the other half did not. All of the participants hand-eye coordination and spatial relations skills were measured on laparoscopic simulators over the course of the study. At the conclusion of the study, those given WII training showed significant improvement in 13 of the 16 performance metrics that were analyzed.

Laparoscopic Training Simulator
Laparoscopic Training Simulator
While the study stops short of concluding that institutions include video games in their curriculum, it does advocate for the development of dedicated software aimed at young surgeons. The skills developed while playing video games and operating simulators will provide them with a tremendous advantage in the development of the skills required to master today's surgical procedures. Surgical training simulators provide many benefits to Sales and Marketing departments in addition to the skills that surgeons learn from them. A company that can demonstrate their tool virtually has an advantage over a competitor that can only demonstrate their product during an actual surgical procedure.

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Thursday, August 01, 2013

World's Most Advanced Virtual Reality Neurosurgical Simulator

If you're interested in medical training simulators or neurosurgical oncology, the most frequently used brain cancer surgery treatment, you've got to check out NeuroTouch Cranio. Developed by the National Research Council Canada, NeuroTouch is touted as the most advanced virtual reality neurosurgical simulator in the world. The simulator's objective is to improve patient safety through the use of virtual reality-based surgical rehearsal, training, planning, and evaluation.

NeuroTouch Neurosurgical Simulator
The simulator includes high-resolution haptics that give the user the ability to feel the difference between normal and tumor tissue during the virtual cranial microsurgery. The Neurosurgical Simulation Center at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital uses NeuroTouch to train for tumor debulking, hemostasis, and microdissection.

Tumor Debulking

In an effort to enhance the effectiveness of radiation, tumor debulking involves the removal of tumor tissue with an ultrasonic aspirator, while blood is aspirated with suction to clear the view.

Neurosurgical Simulator Tumor Debulking

Hemostasis

Hemostasis is a process used to stop bleeding through cauterization. Tissue close to the bipolar electrocautery tips begins to coagulate, tissue aspiration reveals deep tissue bleeding that is not coagulating and needs to be cauterized.

Neurosurgical Simulator Hemostasis

Microdissection

During microdissection, users practice an en-bloc dissection of a brain tumor using forceps and micro-scissors.

Neurosurgical Simulator Microdissection

NeuroTouch Cranio is a virtual reality simulator for select cranial microsurgery procedures that uses stereovision and bimanual tool handles with forced feedback, including cavitron ultrasonic surgical aspirators, bipolar and micro-scissors. The simulator computes real-time interactions between surgical tools and tissue, using contact algorithms and tool-specific interaction models to render tissue dissection, aspiration of liquids and cauterization. >.

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