Like we do every year, MÄK visited ITEC in London and exhibited alongside our fantastic European partners, Antycip. ITEC 2016 was a resounding success for MÄK and its customers. We love getting a chance to meet up with everyone and exchange ideas, and we’re particularly excited by how MÄK customers will benefit from what we learned at this show.
We brought some new demos to the show floor this year highlighting the capabilities of our products to support disaster management training, and they were generating plenty of positive feedback. Our fire response demo using DI-Guy showed off our human character simulation, while the chemical fire response video illustrated the dynamic capabilities of VR-Forces. We also brought our I/ITSEC demos showing off our first person shooter and VR-Capabilities as well as a complete training solution using WebLVC.
On the show floor, a MÄK customer called Conducttr.com caught our eye. They have developed an after action review tool as well as an event timeline manager built in the cloud using VR-Forces and the MAK RTI as the backend. In order to ease communication between the two tools, they use our WebLVC server to talk to their own product and do analysis on the performance for each student. We loved this demo because it shows our capabilities to do cloud based training right now, not next year, but right now. Here's a shot of it working (obviously this is all still in development).
Over the last few years, SISO, the standards group in charge of DIS and HLA, held a day of presentations the day before ITEC, and then a few meetings regarding development of new standards. Of particular importance to us was the initial kickoff meeting for developming the next version of HLA which is planned for a 2018 release.
As has always been the case, MAK will be fully involved in the development of this standard and we will have representatives to be drafting group members. Nothing is set in stone right now, but there have been some great ideas proposed for this next release of HLA. Here is a small sampling of some of the larger proposals:
(1) Relaxed/Fixed Grid DDM. This would be a DDM mode that loosens the DDM rules in order to greatly minimize the performance hit requeired in maintaining DDM bounding boxes for each individual object. In laymans terms it should greatly increase the speed that DDM processes data. The MAK RTI already has a Fixed Grid DDM option, but using it meant not following the HLA standard to the letter. Hopefully this will allow our customers to use our faster DDM implementation while still being HLA compliant.
(2) FOM merging of attributes and dimensions in addition to classes and interactions. FOM Merging in HLA Evolved has been a fastastic boon for interoperability. But it has a few limitations in that objects need to be fully defined in a single file. This proposal allows users to define single attributes on existing objects thus adding much more flexibility to HLA. You could also merge new dimensions into existing objects allowing a DDM filtering scheme to be defined in a separate file from the rest of the object model.
(3) The ability for objects to register as service providers. Essentially these would allow directed messaging in HLA at the object level. This would allow things like register remote control messages, registering as a VRF Service provider, without needlesly sending these messages to the rest of the network.
We are very excited for HLA's future, and think these and other proposed changes will bring the standard to a great future. But SISO isn't standing still with its other standards. After a few years where standards development stalled, SISO has produced DIS 7 and RPR 2.0 recently. Now development is in progress for HLA 4, as well as DIS 8, and version 22 of the SISO Enumerations document. This last one should be out very soon and will contain a whopping 3145 new entity types as well as some changes to make things more machine readable. This is by far the most significant update to this document in a very long time.
You shouldn't worry too much about supporting these standards however. As always, if you are a VR-Link customer you will support for all these new standards when they are released with minimal, if any, changes to your code base.
Check out some pictures from the show floor: