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SPECIAL REPORT

Innovations in Software Based Auto-Calibration Solutions for Military Simulation Applications The Rise of Total Immersion Training Investing in Savings Virtual Training How Training Simulation Technology is Changing Getting Fit for the Future

Sponsored by

Published by Global Business Media


SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

SPECIAL REPORT

Innovations in Software Based Auto-Calibration Solutions for Military Simulation Applications The Rise of Total Immersion Training

Contents

Investing in Savings Virtual Training How Training Simulation Technology is Changing Getting Fit for the Future

Foreword 2

Sponsored by

Tom Cropper, Editor

The Rise of Total Immersion Training

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Scalable Display Technologies Inc.

Published by Global Business Media

Published by Global Business Media Global Business Media Limited 62 The Street Ashtead Surrey KT21 1AT United Kingdom Switchboard: +44 (0)1737 850 939 Fax: +44 (0)1737 851 952 Email: info@globalbusinessmedia.org Website: www.globalbusinessmedia.org Publisher Kevin Bell Business Development Director Marie-Anne Brooks Editor Tom Cropper Senior Project Manager Steve Banks Advertising Executives Michael McCarthy Abigail Coombes Production Manager Paul Davies For further information visit: www.globalbusinessmedia.org The opinions and views expressed in the editorial content in this publication are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation with which they may be associated. Material in advertisements and promotional features may be considered to represent the views of the advertisers and promoters. The views and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily express the views of the Publishers or the Editor. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, neither the Publishers nor the Editor are responsible for such opinions and views or for any inaccuracies in the articles. Š 2015. The entire contents of this publication are protected by copyright. Full details are available from the Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.

Introduction The Need for Simulators How They Can Be Used Making It Work For You Measuring Success Geometric Uniformity IG Integration Brightness Intensity Automatic View Frusta Calculation and Importation Color Matching Projector Light Sources Conclusion

Investing in Savings

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Tom Cropper, Editor

Making Sums Work Are the Cuts Dangerous? The Potential of Training

Virtual Training

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Jo Roth, Staff Writer

Safety First The Downside

How Training Simulation Technology is Changing

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James Butler, Staff Writer

Modern Developments Beyond Video Games

Getting Fit for the Future

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Tom Cropper, Editor

Projectors Cost Technology of the Future

References 15

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SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

Foreword A

S SOMEONE who grew up with Pacman,

equipment and the challenges faced in delivering the

I’m increasingly blown away by the hyper

best possible training experience they can.

realism of modern games such as Call of Duty. It’s

From there, we’ll take a wider look at some of the

no surprise, then, that militaries have also cottoned

issues affecting this market. First up is the economy

on to the idea and are looking to shift much of their

and, with diminishing budgets, military managers are

live training to the virtual world.

increasingly looking at simulators as a more cost-

This makes sense from a cost perspective. Despite

effective option. In doing that, though, they run the risk

the initial expense of the equipment, simulators cost

of becoming too reliant on simulation and of creating

significantly less than live training exercises, but that’s

a fighting force unused to the real world.

not where the benefits end. They are also much safer

Finally, we’ll take a look at the recent developments

and can allow for training scenarios too dangerous for

in this market. Improvements in technology are

live action. As technology improves, the possibilities

continually pushing the boundaries of what’s possible,

are becoming increasingly enticing.

and as they do so, the variety of applications in which

Our opening article comes from one of the leaders

they are being used is growing. The question is –

in this field. Scalable Display Technologies provide an

where is this trend going, and how profoundly will it

overview of the market, and the growth in technology.

affect the future of military training?

Developments in the quality of software, projection, and pixel density have enabled a much more ‘real’ experience than could have been achieved previously. They go on to talk about the technology inside the

Tom Cropper Editor

Tom Cropper has produced articles and reports on various aspects of global business over the past 15 years. He has also worked as a copywriter for some of the largest corporations in the world, including ING, KPMG and the World Wildlife Fund.

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SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

The Rise of Total Immersion Training Scalable Display Technologies Inc.

Why training simulations can be a game changing technological advance in the way we train our servicemen and women

MSAT3-1 COMPRESSED

Introduction

The Need for Simulators

The primary responsibility of all military leaders is to reduce the risk faced by our soldiers while in action, and one of the best ways to do this is to provide realistic training. However, there is a problem: time, money and resources are scarce and live training simulations are cost and resource intensive. However, a solution may come in the form of increasingly realistic training simulations on offer. Projection display technology and display management software are becoming more advanced, which is enabling a new generation of lower-cost, high fidelity simulators that can be quickly deployed in a high volume. Recent advances include solid state light projectors with laser and LED; increased resolution as projectors move to 4K; richer, more realistic graphics that are enabled by the latest GPUs and IGs, as well as new features like dynamic eye-points that more realistically represent reality. Not only do these new products offer a highly effective training package, but they are easier to run, simpler to maintain and offer a lower Total Cost of Ownership.

Military leaders have long been faced with the same problem. On the one hand they have a responsibility to provide the best training and reduce the risk to personnel, but on the other they also have to work within an environment in which time, money, equipment, support and resources for live training events are scarce. Over the last few years defence spending has been on a downward curve. Budget cuts have led to military leaders having to be extremely costsensitive in everything they do, which includes training. Live training exercises will always remain an essential component, but their high cost and resource requirements create problems. This is one reason why there is growing interest in the use of training simulations. These are often described as glorified computer games which replicate real world combat situations. As technology advances, these are becoming more realistic and immersive than ever before, which means their efficacy as a component of training represents a compelling proposition for defence providers around the world. According to the Global Military Simulation and Virtual Training Market 2014-2018 report, this market is set to WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 3


SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

As simulation technologies become more advanced and capable, they can take much of the burden away from live training exercises, without reducing the efficacy of the training itself

grow at 1.9% CAGR between 2013 and 20141. As simulation technologies become more advanced and capable, they can take much of the burden away from live training exercises, without reducing the efficacy of the training itself. This is one reason why global simulation providers remain optimistic about the future, despite a volatile economic background. They believe that increased use of training simulations can help soldiers prepare for dangerous real life situations while also easing the strain on the purse strings.

How They Can Be Used This new generation of technology can be used in many different applications. These include: Full mission simulators (FMS): As the name implies a Full Mission Simulator is a high fidelity trainer which recreates all aspects of a mission in as much detail as possible. They replicate all sensors and weapons deployment as they would exist in the field. To get the most out of them, the simulator and the actual equipment would use the same software to provide operators with training on all new technologies and capabilities as they are introduced to the field. The FMS should be equipped with immersive visuals for initial transition, refresher, continuation and mission rehearsal training. Part-task trainer (PTT): A Part Task Trainer (PTT) is a training device that is designed to train a member of a crew or maintenance staff on a particular task. This can include: • Overhead hoist operator; • Door gunnery training; • Aerial refuelling; •A  variety of complex tasks specific to a particular aircraft. The Part Task Trainer is a cost-effective training solution that allows pilots or maintenance personnel to familiarise themselves with a particular aircraft or weapon system without having to use the full-mission simulator or actual aircraft. 4 | WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM

Making It Work For You Any simulation is only as good as the technology providing the experience. It needs to be as realistic as possible, to come as close to matching real life combat situations as possible. Any glitches in the visual display need to be ironed out to make the entire simulation as seamless and realistic as possible. This means each component has to adhere to the highest standards that can be attained. In training simulators, the main focus is on the process of moving pixels to the screen – known as the pixel pipeline. The IG is a graphic processing unit (GPU). Recent advances in GPU horsepower have produced significant improvements in the realism and detail of the images produced while maintaining high frame rates and low latency. Today’s most technically advanced systems have a warp and blend function built in to add realism. This automatically warps and blends multiple projectors into the seamless display military grade simulators require. This type of software is now used in all branches of the armed forces in the US and elsewhere in the world. These software solutions transform what had been an art of display management and turns it into a function of science instead. A computer now delivers precise results that previously required highly trained technicians and increased man hours to achieve.

Measuring Success The aim of these components is of course to achieve a suspension of reality and cause the trainee to become emotionally connected to the environment around them. This will enhance the experience by making it as close to real as possible. The display system is crucial in delivering this which means all artefacts or imperfections needs to be eliminated from the display. The key areas which need to be addressed include: • Perfect geometric uniformity • Perfect brightness intensity • Colour matching •A  utomation is required to maintain “factory fresh” calibration of the display.


SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

Geometric Uniformity Geometric uniformity is one of the most important metrics of display quality in military simulators. It refers to the accuracy with which the projected scenes match the physical environment as measured by a laser pointer (theodolite). Historically, geometric uniformity has been extremely challenging to achieve and has taken many hours of manual adjustment. However, technology has the potential to change that. Scalable’s algorithm was designed from its inception to deliver the highest possible geometric precision. Scalable Display Manager delivers a precise mesh that ensures all objects on the screen appear in the right location and in uniform size as they move across the screen. Why is geometric uniformity so important? When objects move across the screen they must not be affected by compression or expansion through the warping of the image. For example – imagine if an object such as an aircraft were to expand due to an aberration in a warp uniformity, a pilot may inaccurately conclude that the object is moving closer. The best way to avoid such problems is to begin with a virtual model of the screen and then evenly distribute the projected image on the physical screen.

IG Integration To be truly effective, visuals must be presented to the operator in a truly integrated way. That means they need to have a realistic character, which allows the operator to concentrate on the scene and not waste valuable seconds making a judgement about the image quality. For this reason simulators need to ensure images are inserted as seamlessly as possible with no delay (latency) or interruption. Because the Scalable Mesh File is executed on the image generator, no latency is introduced,” explains Andrew Jamison, CEO of Scalable. “The GPU resource used is less than 0.3 ms (of the available 16 ms when operating at 60 frames per second), which is considered negligible by all customers we have met.”

Brightness Intensity Military simulators require that the immersive visual system has smooth transition between projectors. The transition quality is crucial because this will, in turn, affect the brightness of the final realised image on the screen. Scalable Display Manager automatically adjusts the brightness for perfectly smooth transitions.

Automatic View Frusta Calculation and Importation One of the more technically challenging aspects of

AMI DOME

multi-projector displays for military simulation has always been instructing each IG which part of the simulated “virtual world” to render. The technical term for this function is ‘view frustum’. In the past a design modelled the projector paths in CAD and then imported the information into the IG manually. Alternatively an on-site technician could make an educated guess and adjust manually. The introduction of auto-calibration has changed all that. Using a software-based solution, the view frusta (plural of frustum) are calculated and imported into the IG automatically. This means that each IG receives a perfectly optimised view frustum according to its actual placement in the array of projectors as built. The more accurate the view frustum information can be, the higher the overall apparent resolution of the display. However, manual techniques will still play a role. The shape of military simulation screens can vary considerably, and in some of these transportable simulators, in which set up time is a major consideration, the screen shape will differ from installation to installation. In these circumstances, the quickest method of calibration is a combination of automatic calibration supplemented by a manual mesh tuner. Fortunately the softwarebased solution provided by Scalable, affords the user this flexibility.

Colour Matching Colour matching has been an elusive science for many years. There are several main challenges: first and foremost customers have become highly demanding; they expect the best and are not forgiving of imperfections. Secondly, the content used in military training simulators can often be extremely difficult to match. For example, a blue sky is a common scene which is notoriously unforgiving as far as colour matching is concerned. Furthermore, the screen shapes tend to be complex which, in turn, increases the complicating effects of cross reflectance. Finally, the projectors tend to be mounted at odd angles which cause uneven lamp aging on conventional UHP lamps. There are several complementary techniques for achieving colour matching of projectors – projector colour and shader colour. The best results tend to be achieved by utilising the benefits of both projector and shader colour. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 5


SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

Recent advances in GPU horsepower have produced significant improvements in the realism and detail of the images produced while maintaining high frame STAR CENTER

rates and low latency Projector colour matching: The projector colour approach uses projector specific drivers to alter automatically the values of each projector. An iterative adjustment algorithm tunes the R, G, B offsets and gains by communicating directly with all the projectors in an array. Weak projectors are boosted to ensure that the entire array is not dragged down to the capabilities of the weakest projector. The software manipulates the variables of the projectors in order to achieve the best possible match of the white point, black point and intensity. However, by just using projector colour, the uniformity of an individual projector is not corrected. Manual projector colour matching: Once the communication to the projector drivers has been established, users can manually adjust the “RGB knobs” of projectors from a PC rather than from the handheld remote. In many circumstances the convenience of using sliders on a PC user interface is a significant step forward for many users. Shader colour matching: The shader colour matching approach functions by adjusting the value of each pixel on the GPU via a pixel shader. The process requires a Canon DSLR camera to iteratively take a series of pictures of a white screen and the software manipulates the values of each pixel at the GPU to achieve a uniform white point and intensity across the screen. Users are given the option to give priority to brightness or uniformity. Users can also choose

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to match a “gold” projector or target a specific colour temperature.

Projector Light Sources Conventional projector lamps (UHP) are extremely efficient and produce about 10 times the brightness of the average car headlight. Even so they have their disadvantages including a relatively large size, excessive heat, a short lamp life of about 2,000 hours, a high cost to replace and an unstable colour spectrum as they age. Recently, though, the development of solid state light sources has had a tremendously positive impact on simulation displays. The solid state projectors feature either LED or laser light sources. These new light sources deliver a far more stable colour over time. This stability will help to maintain the colour match for longer intervals.

Conclusion The task of delivering realistic training simulations is by no means a straightforward one. However, such has been the evolution of technology over the past few years that we’re now seeing a rapid change in the way training can be delivered. This enables operators to experience situations with greater realism while also addressing the cost and resource challenges military leaders are facing. Market of Military Simulation: http://tiny.cc/ri6dxx

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SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

Investing in Savings Tom Cropper, Editor

Budgets may be tight for military managers. However, investing in training simulators can deliver savings without impacting on training quality.

W

HEN BUSINESSES find themselves under pressure they generally use phrases such as ‘doing more with less’. However, for military training purposes we could reverse that saying. By investing more in technology the military may be able to reduce their overall expenditure. Training has to be fit for purpose in order to properly prepare soldiers for the challenges they may face in the field. At the same time, reduced budgets mean money is tight and live training is expensive. A tempting alternative is to use virtual simulations to replace some of the live training. However, for this to be effective, video display technology has to be as realistic as possible. That’s requires significant investment in new, more advanced, solutions.

Making Sums Work As the UK prepares for a General Election, one of the key battleground areas has been the economy. In order to reduce the deficit the next government will have to balance a mixture of revenue raising and spending cuts. Defense, as the third largest cost for government, will inevitably be one of the areas hit. The argument is an easy one to make. Every department must endure a certain amount of austerity. Long term deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq are drawing to a close which means spending can come down. The question is – how severe are the cuts going to be? The answer appears to be: very. In September 2014, The Royal United Services Institute predicted UK Defence spending will fall to 1.88% of GDP in the next financial year1. That breaks an important psychological barrier of 2% – the NATO benchmark for member nations. Currently, the UK is one of the only NATO members to meet this target, but they do so by only a fraction. Other members have also been cutting back. In February, Ian Kearns and Denitsa Raynova of the European Leaders Network pointed out that six NATO countries would be reducing their military budgets in 2015,

including the UK and Germany2. This was despite pledges to maintain expenditure in the face of the Ukrainian crisis. The USA is also reducing its military to its smallest size since the Second World War. It remains the world’s largest spender on its military, accounting for 34%3 of global expenditure, but even so, future spending plans have profound implications for their future abilities to wage war. Are the Cuts Dangerous? The scale of cuts among Western NATO members has caused much alarm. In April 2015, the head of the US army described the UK’s spending cuts as ‘extremely worrying’. Meanwhile, the UK’s lack of maritime patrol aircraft meant it had to call in NATO assistance to see off encroaching Russian submarine in 20144. The report by the ELN, meanwhile, says that if the decline in spending continues it will ‘seriously undermine basic defence capability’. These cuts also come at a time when the global geopolitical situation remains highly turbulent. Threats exist from Russia and China – both of whom have significantly increased spending. Meanwhile the US will continue to try and assert its prominence in the Pacific while addressing the rise of ISIS in the Middle East. The missions in Afghanistan and Iraq may have been declared over but the signs are that the army will still have plenty to do in the future. Somehow militaries will have to continue functioning effectively in a much more fiscally constrained future. This means that the savings they need to make will have to be smart – those which cut costs, but in a way which minimizes any impact on their ability to wage war.

The Potential of Training According to militaries, one of the key areas for savings could be in training. The US Airforce believes it can make savings of about $1.7 billion over five years and reduce flying hours by 5% through increasing the use of training simulators. The Navy, meanwhile, believes that an investment of $500 million into training simulators could cut WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 7


SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

Training has to be fit for purpose in order to properly prepare soldiers for the challenges they may face in the field

training costs by $119 million5. Unsurprisingly, therefore, many analysts are bullish about the prospects of the simulation market. Even so, the market has so far not taken off. In 2013 a report predicted the simulation market to remain flat at around $6bn a year for the foreseeable future6. The problem stems from wrangling over budgets in Congress and the lack of a current long term budget plan. With so much uncertainty in the environment, managers may put off procuring training simulators until they feel certain the project will receive long term funding. The nature of military spending also means that it can take some time for money to become available for new simulators, so any new funds may take time to trickle down. The technology also has some work to do if it is to demonstrate its effectiveness. All managers must balance budget requirements against their primary duty of improving the survivability of the soldiers under their command. Their best option for doing this, by far, is to deliver training which is as close to real as possible. To increase the use of simulation, they need to feel comfortable that

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they will deliver the quality of training experience they require. Technology has improved dramatically in recent years with advances in visual and audio quality for training simulators. The arrival of ultra-high 4k projectors, advances in warp and blend software, and improvements in graphics, creates visuals which are closer to reality than ever. Equally, simulators allow for a greater variety of training scenarios. They can help prepare for a variety of different war scenarios, teach interaction with local populations and even field medicine. There are hurdles to be overcome, therefore. While the sums appear to add up, there is a lag between demonstrating capabilities and managers actually making the buying decision. This is partly an inevitable consequence of the way military budgets are handled, but it’s also down to awareness and education among those tasked with allocating funds. Even so, the long term outlook for the simulation market is positive. Budget constraints mean militaries will have to move from live to virtual training. Making sure this is fit for purpose is a major priority.


SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

Virtual Training Jo Roth, Staff Writer

From consoles to battlefield. How video game technology is changing the way our armies are trained.

As far back as the nineties, military chiefs were experimenting with computer simulations as a supplement to training. Today, the technology has come on leaps and bounds – so much so, that there are those who believe simulators could one day replace live action training altogether. However, while cutting edge software undoubtedly offers unprecedented levels of realism, can it ever replace the real thing? This article will look at the development of training simulators over the years and what value they can offer. Budget constraints have long been the nemesis of military planners. That’s truer than ever with life after Afghanistan and Iraq seeing a progressive tightening of budgets for major Western militaries. This, coupled with advances in video game technology, sees armies looking increasingly at the virtual world. Games such as Call of Duty offer an unparalleled sense of realism, and the same software is being transferred into the military training sphere. Flight simulators have been in use for many years, but they are now being used in every area of the military, from the navy to submarines and now even the infantry. Aside from costs, this has a number of key advantages. Simulators reduce the strain on infrastructure. Equipment has undergone intense use over the past couple of years. Switching some of the training hours to simulators can reduce wear and extend the lifespan of this equipment. There is less need for maintenance or replacements of spare parts, all of which feeds into cost benefits for the military. Equally, the latest aircraft and military vehicles can be extremely difficult to run. The US Army’s F-35 fighter jet, for example, is incredibly expensive at $100 million each. It’s a single-seater with no room for the instructor to take over. This is why the majority of training for these aircraft will take place in simulators where pilots can get a feel of the aircraft in a safe environment.

Safety First Safety is a major issue. Any training exercise comes with risk. In March 2015, 11 people were killed when a Black Hawk Helicopter crashed in heavy fog during a nighttime training mission in Florida. This is an illustration of what can happen, even in the supposedly safe environment of a training exercise. While actual deaths are rare, accidents can happen as soldiers often run vehicles without any seatbelts and practice driving at night without headlights. Simulators, on the other hand, offer a 100% safe training experience. They can also, in some cases, offer a more realistic experience and allow for things which live training can’t offer. For example, with a computerized simulation, forces can come under sustained heavy artillery bombardment – something that would, for obvious reasons, be too risky with live action. Their training avatars can die and be blown apart, enabling soldiers to experience direct consequences of their actions. Lastly, simulators can help soldiers prepare more effectively for potential wars in the future. Identifying where the next conflicts might spring up is a major challenge. Will it be back in the desert? Will it be a city environment or a jungle? Who will we be fighting: Iran? North Korea? Russia, or even China? Factoring in such scenarios into a live action training program is complicated, but using simulators it’s possible to come up with something much more convincing.

The Downside Such are the benefits that it’s tempting for managers to shift as much training as possible into the virtual sphere. However, there are downsides. Notwithstanding their undoubted benefits, simulators can never fully replace live training. For all the visual accuracy of display screens, they cannot currently recreate the sights, sounds

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SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

This more sophisticated solution requires advanced software which allows images to be rendered on screen to previously unimaginable levels and smells of a battlefield. Training exercises may not reproduce the full thing, but they do at least allow soldiers to experience the feeling of ‘being there’ and to take part in events outside the narrow parameters of the computer software. Muscle memory is also an important consideration for any training regime. Collaborative training exercises rely on repetition and rehearsal so that when situations occur in real time, soldiers are able to react automatically. It’s paid off many times and a story in 2012 showed just how crucial it can be. When a roadside bomb exploded and insurgents attacked a vehicle in which Dale Kramer was travelling, he credited his survival to his Marine training. He managed to get to a gun turret and lay down suppressing fire which forced the insurgents to take cover. Talking about the incident he said: “It’s what we call in the military muscle memory. When you practice something so many times, it was like riding a bike.”7 The fear with virtual training is that it may not deliver that same muscle memory as live exercises. The military’s latest VR simulation for infantry, for example, does as much as it can to allow soldiers to mimic real-life movements.

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However, to move they still need to use hand controls. The fear is that, when shooting starts, it may take a fraction of a second longer to react – and in combat situations that can make the difference between life and death. Although the technology has advanced considerably, it is still in a process of development. Much has been made of the transference of video game technology to the military world. While the ready-made software engines make this a costeffective option, more complicated simulations require something more bespoke. This more sophisticated solution requires advanced software which allows images to be rendered on screen to previously unimaginable levels. It is here that the most interesting areas of development are taking place as simulators are more accurately able to simulate the real world. This is, therefore, a market of immense promise, but with that comes a warning. Technology is useful, but it is possible to become too enamored with what simulators can provide. A blended strategy which sees more training conducted through simulators, as well as ongoing real world exercises, can deliver tangible cost savings and real material benefits to the army.


SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

How Training Simulation Technology is Changing James Butler, Staff Writer

Armies around the world are turning to military simulation, but further advances are required to truly deliver the goods.

I

N 1982 Microsoft released its Flight Simulator game. Ever since then, the link between entertainment and commercial simulation has been growing. As the game producers develop increasingly sophisticated software, it is also being adopted for use in military simulation. Enhanced graphics, increased resolution, more advanced interactivity and light projection all combine to produce a far more realistic experience. It was in the early 2000s that militaries first began to investigate seriously the options for video game technology. Since then games have gradually become increasingly prevalent in various parts of the operation. With technology developing rapidly, this is a process which has accelerated, leading to a new generation of simulators that deliver a level of realism which would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

Modern Developments Over the past couple of years, the US Army in particular has been active in developing new video game-based solutions for their training. They are motivated partly by money, but also by a need to increase the range of scenarios and improve quality of training. The results of this project can be seen in an advanced new training solution. The Dismounted Soldier Training System (DSTS) consists of a wearable virtual reality system, which allows soldiers to make use of their own natural movements to operate in a range of training environments. They use a high resolution virtual head mounted display, wearable battery packs and weapons together with inertial motion sensors to create a realistic simulation. Soldiers can collaborate together in a range of operating scenarios, building mission critical skills and facing a wider range of challenges than they might face in a live training exercise. They can

also be networked to a central server allowing them to take part in much larger training exercises from teams based elsewhere. The DSTS is the US military’s most advanced infantry training program yet. While advanced simulators exist for other simulations such as pilot, gunnery, navy and various forms of training, finding a solution for the infantry has been more challenging. A range of first person shooters have been used in the past, but these have made use of technology which is outdated and doesn’t provide the total immersion experience DSTS aims for. Part of the problem is that soldiers had difficulty taking training program seriously because they simply weren’t as advanced as the console games they were using at home. The solution was simple – to bring the technology from the console market and use it for military training simulators. This represents a cost effective solution as the engines are already there. All that was needed was to incorporate the engines used by games manufacturers into a specialist application for military use and you have something much more realistic.

Beyond Video Games However, even this level of technology is not good enough for all the purposes the army has planned. They envisage transferring more training from live exercises to the virtual world. To do that they need solutions which can deliver a much greater level of realism. The search for this technology has seen simulator providers utilizing game engines to drive down system costs. Leveraging commercially available game engines allows new entrants into the simulation market and existing players to build lower cost offerings for training. In 2014 Sony joined with Scalable Display Technologies as it sought to strengthen its push into the visualization WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 11


SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

This new technology delivers a quality of visual rendering which has never previously been seen in the training simulation market

and simulation market. The partnership combines Scalable’s auto-calibration software together with Sony’s 4k projectors to create extremely high resolution imagery that can be used with any simulation engine on any screen type. The new solution can be used in a wide range of products from driving simulators to advanced military training applications. The 4k projectors go a long way beyond HD visuals producing what Sony describes as ‘outstanding contrast, true color and detail beyond the imagination.’ Together with this, the latest GPUs and IGs are producing more realistic graphics and solid state light projectors with laser and LEDs, all driving the technology forward at a rapid pace. This new technology delivers a quality of visual rendering which has never previously been seen in the training simulation market. Together with more advanced software algorithms, which can create avatars mimicking civilian and enemy behavior, the range of applications in which this technology can be used is growing rapidly. Even so, there is room for improvement. The DSTS does its best to mimic movement and to deliver a realistic experience for soldiers, but it can’t deliver a truly immersive experience – one which accurately mimics the real world. Soldiers

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rely on hand movements to move about in the environment which detracts from the realism on display. It means live exercises retain an important use in military operations. However, technology has a role to play here also. The army is investigating new solutions for augmented reality systems which can allow users to use VR systems out in the field. It’s one of just a number of developments which have professionals in the training simulator market so excited about the future. They are helped by the competitive commercial nature of the video game market. As games companies compete to produce newer and better simulations, they will constantly produce superior software engines to drive future generations of training simulators. Likewise commercial visual display companies such as Sony and Samsung are continuing to push the envelope in terms of what technology can deliver for the home entertainment market. By collaborating with other companies in the simulation market, this technology can be harnessed for better used in military training. While the software and calibration technologies we’re seeing today represent a dramatic step forward over the recent past, the future has much more to offer. In the final article in this report, we’ll look at some of these developments and see how future trends might affect the simulation market.


SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

Getting Fit for the Future Tom Cropper, Editor

The next generation of training simulators is on its way. However, making sure they conform to the exacting demands of the industry is no easy task.

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EMAND FOR more sophisticated military training simulations is spurring rapid technological development. These must adhere to the exacting standards of military clients in delivering razor sharp images and a far more immersive training experience. However, this technology is constantly evolving and, for mangers, identifying the right solution can be a major challenge. Equally, developers and suppliers need to understand the requirements of the industry before they can develop the next generation of technologies. All the high tech magic in the world can’t help if the end product doesn’t meet the needs of the end user. This requires high levels of collaboration between all parties involved including the military, projector manufacturers, software developers and suppliers of simulators. Satisfying military clients is no easy task. Training is at its most effective when it’s as realistic as possible. Graphics must be impeccable and pixels delivered to the screen in a uniform way. Any glitch in the visual matrix will effectively break the spell and reduce the efficacy of the training experience. As various companies compete to sell to the lucrative military market, they are having to bring in revolutionary improvements throughout the equipment.

Projectors Simulators require large scale images at an extremely high resolution which presented difficulties in bringing projection technology up to scratch. This has long been the main technology for use for large screens – ever since cinemas first opened to the public. Over the years they have developed to keep pace with trends for larger video screens and higher resolution. However, simulation technologies require a higher pixel density and resolution than single projectors are able to deliver. The solution is multiple projectors configured to produce multiple images stitched together to create a much higher density pixel count. These use warp and blend

software to produce a seamlessly integrated image over a large format. For military simulations, such as flight and naval simulators, this adds to the level of realism by allowing large screens to maintain pristine visual clarity. Further improvement comes from the arrival of ultra HD performance with 4k projectors. These are developed for home cinema systems and produce a previously unparalleled level of system performance. However, these are also being used to produce cutting edge visual effects in the simulation environment. By bringing in edge blending technology they can increase the pixel density by overlapping different images to create a much larger, high quality display.

Cost A primary motivation behind the move into training simulators is cost. That means the products managers choose to buy will be those which offer good affordability. Here there is trade-off. Systems developed with commercial software engines deliver a good solution for basic training scenarios, but for more complicated exercises, high tech customized software, built to the exacting demands of the military, will be crucial. The trouble is that, although this still has a lower operational cost than live action training, the initial equipment purchase cost is considerable. In an environment in which procurement officers are strapped for cash, there will always be a temptation to go for lower quality and cheaper alternatives. However, this involves inevitable sacrifices in terms of the quality of training. The challenge comes with quantifying this quality trade-off. If mistakes are made in the field, it’s difficult to trace that back definitively to inadequacies in the training regime. A small delay in reaction time can prove immensely costly, but how can one say definitively that it’s down to the standard of training received? While suppliers have difficulty conclusively demonstrating the value of top-end solutions, the temptation to cut corners will always remain. WWW.DEFENCEINDUSTRYREPORTS.COM | 13


SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

As various companies compete to sell to the lucrative military market, they are having to bring in revolutionary improvements throughout the equipment

One way to address this problem is to reduce running costs. The latest technologies are not only operating at a higher level, but they are also delivering real advances in reliability. LEDs, for example, are replacing traditional high intensity discharge lamps. LEDs have been known to produce a life cycle of 80,000 hours compared to HIDs of 500 hours. Longer life means less downtime, as lamps are replaced, and a lower total cost of ownership.

Technology of the Future These developments represent a taste of what the simulator industry is bringing to the table. They are constantly evolving and looking at new ways to make training as close to life as possible. In doing so, they are trying to address the one hurdle that, so far, is impossible to breach – the feeling of being there. For all the visual enhancements simulators can bring they cannot fully replicate the experience. Real life training brings in the sounds, smells and sensations of being in the battlefield and, as a result, ensures training simulations are as realistic as they possibly can be. The only drawback is the limited number of scenarios

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which can be used and the restrictions implied by safety. A solution, therefore, may come in blending the two. In the US the army is looking into augmented reality products. Their Future Holistic Training Environment Live Synthetic program brings various simulation scenarios into one remotely accessible solution. It creates the possibility of soldiers wearing special goggles which allow them to add features to a live environment. In the future, soldiers could be in a field, as they would be with a live training environment, but by using VR googles and a networked system, they can be ducking enemy fire produced in the virtual environment. It would be possible, for example, for different groups located in different parts of the country to collaborate in one single training exercise8. This technology remains at an early stage and there is no guarantee that it will be pursued over the long term. However, it illustrates the range over which developers are looking. They are examining a new generation of ultra-high tech equipment that goes even further than today’s technologies. In doing so they will always be working with what the industry has in mind.


SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

References: 1

British Defence Spending to Fall Below NATO benchmark: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/11076149/British-defence-spending-to-fall-below-Nato-benchmark.html

NATO Defence Spending falls Despite Pledges to Reverse Cuts: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-31619553

Trends in Global Military Expenditure: http://books.sipri.org/files/FS/SIPRIFS1504.pdf

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Britain Calls on NATO Allies: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/12/10/uk-britain-defence-idUKKBN0JO15H20141210

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Budget Cuts, Fuel Costs Could Spur Military Spending on Simulators:

2

3

6

http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2012/December/Pages/BudgetCuts,FuelsCostsCouldSpurMilitarySpendingonVirtualTraining.aspx

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8

Military Simulation Market to Remain Flat: http://www.nationaldefensemagazine.org/archive/2014/December/Pages/MilitarySimulationMarkettoRemainFlat.aspx

Under fire in Afghanistan: http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2011/11/under_fire_in_afghanistan_mari.html

Army Examining Augmented Reality: http://www.gizmag.com/army-live-synthetic-future-combat-simulation/31312/

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SPECIAL REPORT: INNOVATIONS IN SOFTWARE BASED AUTO-CALIBRATION SOLUTIONS FOR MILITARY SIMULATION APPLICATIONS

Notes:

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Defence Industry Reports – Software Based Auto Calibration Solutions for Military Simulation  

Defence Industry Reports – Software Based Auto-Calibration Solutions for Military Simulation Applications