Help spread the word about modeling and simulation!
Help spread the word about modeling and simulation!
Esri, the biggest player in the Geographic Information System market, held its international users conference last week in San Diego. As usual, it was a very impressive event.
Many of us in the Modeling, Simulation & Training industries use, or have used, Esri’s ArcGIS tools to prepare geographic information for use as source data in our terrain database generation workflows. Well, this year Esri stepped into the 3D site model generation business by acquiring Procedural and their City Engine technology for building 3D urban environments. Those of you who know me, know I’ve been a proponent of procedural terrain generation for years, I even authored an I/ITSEC paper on the subject in 2004. So, on the flight to San Diego, I took the opportunity to give City Engine a try.
On a quick walk around the show floor here at ITEC 2012 in London, I was excited to see the number of partners and other product vendors demonstrating new integrations between their products and ours:
1) Antycip Simulation is demonstrating a new dynamic ocean visualization plug-in to VR-Vantage, based on their MyOcean3D technology. This plug-in generates realistic-looking waves by using fast-fourier-transform techniques to generate a dynamic height field, encoding the height field in a texture, and passing the texture to custom shader code running on the GPU. The shader supports vertex displacement both vertically (for crests and troughs) and horizontally (for curling and breaking wave tips). In the demonstration, a ship simulated by VR-Forces bobs and rocks realistically on the waves. This is accomplished through a dynamic form of "ocean clamping", where a simple physics model is run in VR-Vantage to offset the ground-truth positions and orientations published over HLA by VR-Forces. The MyOcean3D plug-in to VR-Vantage is already in use at one customer site, and we are interested in hearing whether you'd like to see this become part of the standard product offering.
At MÄK we take developer documentation seriously. We recognize we haven’t always gotten it right, therefore we are continually trying to make it better. With new product releases starting this quarter, we will be overhauling how we present development documentation. The changes may be relatively subtle but we believe you will appreciate them.
Historically, we have always had two places developers needed to look to understand our APIs: The Developer's Guide, which was in PDF format, and the Class Documentation, an HTML guide to class usage. These two competing formats sometimes got out of sync because they weren’t reviewed at the same time, or because the class docs were generated automatically from the code thereby instantly reflecting changes. To solve these problems, we started moving code segments from the Developers Guide to the Class Docs, but this just made the split between the two documents more troublesome.
With the release of VR-Vantage 1.4.1 comes the ability to visualize streaming features from Open Streaming Terrain Servers like VR-TheWorld. Check out the hundreds of thousands of buildings and millions of trees being served up on our Hawaii database. The island of Oahu has been chosen to demonstrate this capability and all you need to visualize it is a VR-Vantage application and an internet connection.
Use any VR-Vantage application like VR-Vantage Stealth or VR-Vantage FreeView. Connect to our online VR-TheWorld Server (when the app starts a terrain chooser dialog appears with "VR-TheWorld Online - MÄK Earth.earth" already selected. Just click OK). Load a "saved view" to bring you directly to Hawaii (Observer Saved Viewe Panel -> Import and Replace Views -> Choose "hawaii-boston.osrx". Click on "Hawaii").
This is part 5 in my series of blog posts on RTI RID configuration tips. Check out the previous posts in this series, and stay tuned for more to come.
Part 1 – RID Consistency Checking
Part 2 – The Advantages of MTL
Part 3 – Utilize Environment Variables
Part 4 – Modularizing Your RID
Change RID parameters programmatically in HLA 1516-2000 and HLA Evolved
The RID file isn’t the only way to specify RTI configuration parameters. Many people don’t know that RID parameters can also be specified programmatically by the federate. Unfortunately there was no mechanism for this in the HLA 1.3 API, but in 1516-2000 such a mechanism was added, and the same idea was kept in HLA Evolved (though the API for it changed). In HLA 1516-2000 and HLA Evolved, the standard included a way to pass a string or series of strings to the RTI to be used in RTI initialization. Since RTI configuration is different for every RTI, the standard left it to RTI developers to determine how these strings were used. As a result, this is one of the few areas of the API that will work differently from RTI to RTI. So if your federate needs to operate with multiple RTIs, you may want to consider other configuration options or have a switch in your code based on what RTI you are using. So how can you use these strings with the MÄK RTI?
As the news of Warren's upcoming departure from MÄK has spread after today's announcement, I've heard from a few long-time partners and customers asking for my take on what this means for MÄK. So I wanted to share a few quick thoughts. But first, this is good time to express how lucky I feel that I've had the opportunity to work for Warren for more than 18 years.
I first met Warren when I was 20 years old, when he conducted an on-campus interview at MIT. As I walked past all of the other companies' representatives wearing suits and ties, there was Warren wearing sneakers, jeans, and a T-shirt (although he did have a blazer on over the T-shirt). I said to myself "That's the guy I want to work for!" And I have enjoyed doing so ever since. Over the years, I've found Warren to be a visionary leader, an eternal optimist, a businessman of unimpeachable character, an outstanding role model, and a good friend. I wish you the best of luck, Warren, in your post-MÄK life, and I thank you for creating and cultivating a company that remains engaging, successful, and fun even after almost two decades. (continued...)
When preparing fo the ATCA conferences this year, we wanted to show how MÄK tools can be used in the NextGen environment. One example we showed used the VR-Exchange protocol translator to build a bridge connecting ADS-B traffic to simulation standard protocols, such as DIS and HLA Evolved (High Level Architecture). By creating a custom Broker for VR-Exchange using the toolkit, it allowed us to bring in live air traffic to our synthetic environment in order to visualize the traffic as well as have our simulated entities respond to the live traffic. This is just one example of how MÄK's open toolkits allow for the products to be extended and customized for creating mission focused solutions.
During our work in the modeling and simulation space we're often introduced to some very cool technologies. Some are synergistic with MÄK's and others can be enhanced when used in combination with our own.
One such technology was developed by a research corporation in upstate NY. The innovation involves a unique approach speech synthesis. It provides the ability to synthesize and manipulate natural sounding speech in multiple voices. The technology will allow users to synthesize a speaker from a short recorded sample and from that generate many hundreds of individual speakers. Ultimately, this will deceive a human listener into believing the synthesized speech was produced by a live human. This capability is of great interest to the intelligence community as it will help train linguists in the collection of accurate intelligence from communication intercepts and in the understanding of rare dialects.
I recently attended the Fall 2011 Simulation Interoperability Workshop in Orlando (with Aaron Dubois -- check out his account of SIW here), which I have been attending since 1990 or so. One of the focus areas for this meeting was the NASA Smackdown, which is a lunar lander and rover simulation event that took place at the Spring 2011 SIW and will again be shown at the Spring 2012 SIW. It is organized by NASA with participation from a dozen colleges and universities around the world. A few more universities plan to attend next year, including Arizona State University. We are providing the RTI and technical support for this event again next year. It is really a great way for future engineers and scientists get familiar with distributed simulation and MÄK is pleased to continue to support it. I also spent some time in the MSDL and CBML product development group meetings. Phase II of MSDL is getting started and the CBML group is just finishing up their Trial Use period for Phase I. We are keeping our eye on these developing standards and may support them in future product versions. If you are at all interested in using these standards in MÄK products, please let us know.