The story of VT MAK begins - naturally enough - with the men who gave the company it’s name.
The year was 1990 and John Morrison and Warren Katz huddled around a space heater in the basement of Katz’s home in Cambridge, forming the genesis of a small technology startup called MAK (Morrison and Katz) Technologies.
The old world of modeling and simulation was exclusionary and difficult to penetrate. Simulators were built as one-off, closed-loop systems that stifled development and competition.
Morrison and Katz believed they could transform the industry by developing open standards. They envisioned a line of COTS products for distributed simulation capable of working in concert or as stand-alone solutions. To bring their vision to life they, and a few other members of the team, contributed to the original Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) standard and pushed for the adoption of the High Level Architecture (HLA). MAK, under their direction, would go on to realize those open standards for COTS products, building the infrastructure for distributed simulation. This dedication to interoperability extended to the products they would develop at MAK, as they took care to ensure that each product worked seamlessly with the others, as well as with non-MAK products.
Morrison and Katz also recognized that success for their customers would require an “Engineer Down the Hall” mentality, in which engineers work seamlessly as an extension of customers’ engineering teams to solve issues they may run into. As an extension of this philosophy, they made sure to provide service that went well beyond technical support — including engineering services, training and consulting, product feature development, on-site support, and project assistance.
The first product developed by MAK Technologies was VR-Link, which was designed to connect your simulator to a large federation with DIS (and eventually HLA) simulation networking. The Link product line would later evolve to include the MAK RTI (an HLA Run Time Infrastructure), protocol translation and bridging, and simulation recording and replay.
As Morrison and Katz developed ways to improve simulation experiences for their customers, the line of products that MAK offered grew. In 1993, MAK Stealth was launched, providing a much-needed 3D view into simulation to provide situational awareness from the viewpoint of all players. In 2007 it grew into the comprehensive VR-Vantage product that we know today.
Link was joined by a new product category, Simulate, with the introduction of VR-Forces in 1999. VR-Forces introduced computer generated forces, simulator development, and artificial intelligence behavior modeling. As the user base expanded, there was more desire for a simple way to populate simulations with high-fidelity, controllable, groupable characters for large exercises.
In December 2006, MAK Technologies was acquired by Singapore Technologies. Realizing the storied history of the company, they kept the founders’ original name, lightly rebranding it as VT MAK. Throughout this change of ownership, VT MAK was able to retain its values and leadership, and the growth would keep on coming.
In 2007 the Visualize product line grew out of the MAK Stealth product with VR-Vantage IG , which is responsible for visual and sensor Image Generation. Other Visualize products would yield 3D simulation visualization, and tactical map display. VR-Vantage expanded MAK’s customers’ Terrain options, adding a streaming terrain alternative to the product portfolio with the launch of the VR-TheWorld streaming terrain server. VR-Forces and VR-Vantage enable terrain-agile approaches that support streaming and procedural terrain for high performance game-like simulations.
John Morrison moved on from the company in 2009 to pursue other interests. In 2012, Warren Katz announced his departure after 21 years at the helm. Katz and the MAK board of directors selected Dan Schimmel as the company’s new CEO, initiating a smooth transition as Schimmel and Katz worked together to ensure the organization didn’t miss a beat. Katz remains an advisor to the company.
MAK’s offering continued to expand in 2013 with the Web/Mobileproduct line, introducing interoperability for web-based federates and web applications to observe, control, and participate in distributed simulations. The initial product in the Web/Mobile product line would be the WebLVC Server, a server and a collection of web-based applications that simplify and expand the reach of live, virtual, or constructive simulations. Morrison and Katz’s early industry leadership on standards development that paved the way for the community to build interoperable live, virtual, and constructive (LVC) simulations put MAK in position to lead the community to adopt "internet era" techniques .
In January of 2014, VT MAK acquired the DI-Guy arm of Boston Dynamics. DI-Guy and MAK share the same core values: flexible software toolkits, value-added applications built on those toolkits, and an engineer-down-the-hall support philosophy. MAK now offers the Humans product line, focusing on super-realistic, fully-rigged, easy to manipulate human characters that intelligently interact in simulation environments.
Today, MAK is a world leader in modeling and simulation software that links, simulates and visualizes virtual worlds in networked synthetic environments. The company continues to innovate and build commercial-off-the-shelf simulation tools and toolkits that are used throughout the acquisition life cycle — from early prototyping, through research and development, to test and evaluation, and finally, training.
That crazy idea in a Cambridge basement now counts among its clients the likes of Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, BAE and Thales, along with many government laboratories and nearly all the major system integrators in the world.
MAK is dedicated to serving our customers by building flexible products, offering superior technical support, and innovating new ways to build, populate, and view interoperable 3D simulated worlds that take advantage of the latest gaming technologies. We’ve been pushing the limits of simulation technology with this same set of principles for over 25 years, and knowing us, we won’t be stopping anytime soon.