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MÄK and our reseller Antycip make great partners! 

Paris, 20 March 2014 - Antycip Simulation, a subsidiary of ST Electronics (Training & Simulation Systems) Pte Ltd, is to support Thales Naval Systems for its combat management system, TACTICOS.  Part of Thales’ Combat Management Systems (CMS) family of solutions, TACTICOS meets the combat management needs of the world’s navies.  The combat management system is at the heart of naval vessels and integrates all the ship’s sensors and information received from various sources for real time situational awareness.

Based on a recognised fire control capability worldwide, TACTICOS combines Combat Operations and Maritime Security Operations in one CMS. Open standards technology and a massive amount of subsystems interface implementations, make TACTICOS the core of the mission solution with new looks and new features which are carefully designed for mission packages and are released according to the TACTICOS roadmap.

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Tradeshow | |

Hola de FIDAE 2014,

This past week VT MÄK attended and exhibited at FIDAE 2014, inside our Chilean reseller Altec Ltda’s booth.  Throughout the show MÄK was able to conduct live joint scenario exercise demonstrations between the Altec Ltda. booth and the Chilean Army - Centro de Modelacion y Simulacion. This live scenario was demonstrated on a coastal Chilean terrain "“ Antofagasta. Along this coast we implemented a Blue Force / Red Force scenario. The Red Forces were controlled from the Altec Ltda booth and CEMSE controlled the Blue Forces.  This live scenario demonstration was operated via WebLVC whereby the instructor controlled the various entities behavior and path navigation through a wireless tablet.

Additionally, MÄK presented the Training System Demonstrator (based on VR-Forces, VR-Vantage and WebLVC) in Hawaii which received a lot of interest "“ especially how naval, air and dynamic entities were managed via WebLVC.  All of this exciting technology was complimented with a variety of DI-Guy Scenario demonstrations.  Many Chilean MOD divisions were able to see the full suite of VT MÄK product offerings.  Altec Ltda also showcased complimentary demonstrations of the DISTI F-15 Virtual Maintenance trainer.

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Guess what? MÄK has fish! (No, this is not an April Fools’ joke.) Check them out. Leave us a comment below or email us at info@mak.com if you’re hungry to learn more!

fish

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When a patient comes into a medical clinic or hospital, the nurses have to assess what’s wrong. The same thing is true when an EMT shows up to the scene of a car accident. Sometimes the patients are clear and correct with their complaints, but often the patient does not know what’s wrong, has multiple seemingly unrelated issues, or is just delirious. Medical professionals have to figure it out. They must poke, prompt, and gauge the expressions on the patient’s faces to determine the appropriate course of treatment. This is a skill that comes with exposure to many cases "“ a skill that benefits from experiential learning. This is where virtual patient simulations come in.

Virtual training made its debut into medical professions with the advent of the CD-ROM and other interactive programs. Technology has since matured and medical professionals are increasingly taking advantage of virtual patient simulations to create much more responsive, interactive, and intelligent training situations.

 

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Last month I made a Hunger Games movie reference to the "Gamemakers", likening them to the "gamemaker-like" instructors that large wargaming simulations use to keep the game moving. If you’re dealing with huge US Air Force simulations, for example, it isn’t practical to stop and restart the simulation if something goes wrong.

It turns out that this "gamemaking" concept works on small scales, too, if your scenario generation tools are agile enough. The U.S. Marine Corps Tactical Operations Group (MCTOG) is a great example. They use company-level simulations where "gamemakers" use DI-Guy ECOSim to keep the action relevant. During missions, the training support staff add or reduce complexity of the simulation environment based on the experience level of the Combat Operations Center Staff being trained. Easy-to-use simulation tools allow the Marines to personalize the training and optimize the training effectiveness.

Even with the tables turned to a small-scale simulation environment, the odds are still ever in your favor with MÄK.

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A powerful wave of new and viable technologies is facilitating a big transition to virtual environments using thin clients. Consider all the amazing advances that have taken root in the last 5-10 years - cloud platforms, advancing web browsers, mobile devices, social media, big data mining, and adaptive training platforms. These breakthroughs have revolutionized virtually every other commercial industry. However, with few exceptions, military training and simulation has not yet effectively taken advantage of these new technologies.

MÄK’s comprehensive suite of tools and our vision to bring live, virtual, and constructive simulation to the web enable this necessary paradigm shift for military developers. We have extended our industry-renowned COTS simulation and visualization software with a complementary suite of web-enabled server and client applications. Now a new generation of flexible, modular software can deliver low-cost, relevant training solutions to everyone in the military; these solutions are accessible on every type of device and network, anywhere the customer is located, in any domain. Prototyping, development, experimentation, and deployment cycles become much faster, simpler, and more fun as more of the cost and hassle moves traditional physical simulation centers to the cloud. The budget frees up to create engaging simulations to train more warfighters.

The time is right to take advantage of web & mobile technologies and MÄK isn’t the only one who knows it "“ the Air Force gets it, too. They’re modernizing their entire Modeling and Simulation Training Toolkit (AFMSTT) system to reap the benefits of the web & mobile trend. The cost of coordinating an Air Force simulation is astronomical - think about the tens of thousands of people who must take part in these training exercises. But with MÄK’s web technology, those people will utilize their own secure networks to participate in a massive training exercise without ever leaving their base.

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Last week both VT MÄK and our in-country reseller TME Systems exhibited at the Singapore Airshow. TME presented the full suite of MÄK products, while MAK showcased our Maritime (TSD) Training Simulation Demonstrator at the ST Engineering booth.

The MÄK Training System Demonstrator focuses on a maritime environment simulated by VR-Forces. In the demonstrator environment you see air, land, sea, and submarine entities behaving according to plans; through our training interfaces, CGF, and web-applications, users manipulate the simulation to achieve training in their techniques, tactics, and procedures. The demonstrator consists of four MÄK COTS products, including VR-Forces, VR-TheWorld Server, VR-Vantage, and the MÄK WebLVC Suite.

Key Features of the Training System Demonstrator:

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Greetings from Singapore!

We just wrapped up the 2014 Asian Reseller Conference with our partner DISTi. It was a great event and I want to acknowledge all of our partners and resellers for helping make MÄK products so successful. Events like this one really reinforce that! We had resellers join us in Singapore from all over the world, including South Korea, Taiwan, China, Japan, Egypt, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia. We even had a special guest appearance from Russ Moulton of JRM Technologies, who presented the latest SensorFx developments.

With our recent addition of DI-Guy’s full product suite to the MÄK portfolio, there was a lot of interest in understanding all the products’ capabilities and markets. And now that WebLVC is making headway in the VisSim market, there was a great deal to  demonstrate in that area as well. (Want a demo? I can make that happen.)

Thanks to all of those who came and made this event a real success. A big shout out of appreciation goes to Jeff Bail for making his technical sessions interesting and compelling and Chris Giordarno, VP of Sales and Business Development at DISTi, for his endless organizing efforts. (And for having the ability to hobble around on one foot.)

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Database correlation between different systems is a difficult issue, but sometimes we make it harder than it has to be. For example, imagine someone has a large terrain database built with TerraVista. You want that terrain and since your system can handle OpenFlight, you think, "Great! Let’s try it out. Send me that database." What you get is hundreds of openflight files and one master.flt file that references the hundreds of individual tiles of terrain. When you try to load the master.flt file, your system runs out of memory and crashes. Bummer, that didn’t work. It’s like trying to eat a bag of popcorn without opening the bag first.

To handle this problem, you could choose an approach that would be optimal for your system, but also the hardest and most time-consuming to implement; you would have to reprocess the terrain database into a structure that better suits your system architecture. But many times you don’t have the skills, time, or energy to do that. You just want to load the thing and see if it is a useful database before committing to optimizing it.

Here’s what I recommend: try MetaFlight. Lots of people think MetaFlight is a different kind of database but it’s not. It’s just an XML-based way to reference the many tiles of a terrain. MetaFlight describes the grid of tiles using your database’s coordinate system so that the simulation or visual system can fetch the tiles that it needs and ignore the ones that are not needed or in view. When you use MetaFlight, it’s like reaching into the bowl of popcorn and getting the handful that you want. 

If you’d like some help doing this, or even if you just want to understand it better, give us a call, leave us a comment, or email us at info@mak.com. We’re here to help.

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Some wargaming simulations are so large that setting them up requires the organizational skills of a multi-echelon military structure. The’re too big to stop and restart when something goes wrong. So how do you handle it? How do you make sure that all the training participants learn what they are supposed to learn? This is where the Gamemakers come in.

Maybe you’ve seen the movie "The Hunger Games". The Gamemakers control the contest, adding distractions, challenges, even new opponents to steer contestants toward the conflict. Military officers acting as instructors do something similar for large wargames. They steer the conflict by adding supporting elements and opponents "“ changing entities’ behavior and capabilities. They set up situations so that learners must use the tactics, techniques, and procedures in their curriculum.

You, too, can be a Gamemaker. To be successful, you’ll need simulation tools that can be used while the simulation is running. Tools so easy to manage that you can detect problems and effect changes immediately. For this, you should try VR-Forces and DI-Guy Scenario, tools that enable you, the instructor, to dynamically inject events to stimulate trainee responses or guide a trainee’s actions during a training exercise. You can make your game a winning simulation and MÄK can help. The odds will always be in your favor.

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At I/ITSEC 2013, we showed a demo of an integration between VR-Vantage and the Oculus Rift, a head mounted virtual reality display being developed by OculusVR (www.oculusvr.com).

The Rift has low latency, 360 degree head tracking and the inputs from its sensors are fed into VR-Vantage, which changes the orientation of the observer as the person wearing the Rift moves their head. It uses lenses to create an immersive 110 degree field of view. The hard work of correcting for the distortion created by the lenses is all done in shaders on the GPU. Two separate channels are drawn onto its single panel display to allow for a stereoscopic view. The Oculus SDK allows VR-Vantage to access all the parameters required to calculate the distortion correction and the projection matrices required for each eye. At the show, I’d put people in the cockpit of an F-35 and it looked and felt real enough that some people were reaching for the eject handle!

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Why simulate? Because you can learn and gain insight into problems that are too difficult, expensive, or risky to explore any other way. In the case of unmanned vehicle systems (UVS), there has never been a better time to invest in simulation tools to help bring your UVS goals to life. Whether you want to demonstrate new vehicle concepts within a synthetic environment, prove and refine new Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs), or provide a way for pilots, sensor/payload operators, and mission commanders to practice and analyze decision-making and communication processes, VT MÄK has the tools to make it happen.

MÄK is proud to help system integrators experiment and research entire UAS environments from the ground up - from ground control stations, to the unmanned vehicle, to sensors on the UAV, and to the human-in-the-loop. VR-Forces, MÄK’s scenario generation software, models everything going on in the (virtual) world and provides an intuitive 2D/3D user interface to create dynamic, interactive scenarios for military and civilian applications. With VR-Forces, you can build scenarios to include both the sensor platforms and the target entities and their semi-automated interactions. Experience the view from your virtual unmanned vehicle by attaching simulated electro-optic (EO), infrared (IR), night vision (NVG) sensors to VR-Forces sensor platforms.

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During live missions, soldiers and marines interact with the rich complexity of human behavior. Fellow blue forces and command structures behave, or at least are supposed to behave, according to doctrine. Civilians are busy going about their business, which can be as simple as hanging around, or as complex as searching for and gathering with friends, avoiding traffic, playing games, shopping, or engaging in religious or civic causes. Opposing forces may also be following doctrine or, all too often these days, be very unorthodox in their behavior. It’s hard to tell the normal, peaceful activities from the malicious ones. 

Here’s a suggestion on how to model such a complex environment "“ use artificial intelligence (AI) for the simulated entities, then group them together and add AI to the groups. There, we made it sound easy. But seriously, The U.S. Marine Corps Tactical Operations Group (MCTOG) had exactly this issue. They needed to train captains to learn their role as commanders through realistic search, patrol, and intelligence gathering exercises. And to do that they needed a way to model a complex network of human behavior. Working together with our DI-Guy team, we developed a new level of interactive scenario generation capability. We call it Enhanced Company Operation Simulation, ECO Sim for short.

ECO Sim builds upon DI-Guy AI, which provides "Lua-brains" to individual characters, by applying Lua intelligence to collections of characters to form sophisticated human networks. Opposing forces intent on deploying improvised explosive devices (IED) are modeled with financiers, bomb makers, safe houses, leaders, and emplacers. These IED networks operate within a larger backdrop of ambient civilian behavioral patterns of life: farmers in fields, children attending school, families going to marketplaces, and religious services.

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DIS 7 brought a large number of improvements to the standard. Two of these improvements, however, stand out above the rest due to their flexibility in supporting all sorts of simulators and not just specific use cases. The first of this improvement is heartbeating for specific types of entities, which I covered in a past newsletter, so let’s move on to the second major general improvement: extensibility.

The Attribute PDU is a new type of message in DIS that works much differently than other PDUs. This PDU is not meant to be used alone and it contains extra information about an existing PDU. For example, say you want to add new parameters to your entities. You can now create an attribute PDU with those parameters and bundle it with your standard entity message. The DIS 7 standard also comes with tens of new record types for all sorts of new data.

Unfortunately, the actual implementation of Attribute PDUs is very confusing. You can attach this PDU at the end of an existing message for one type of effect. You can also send it separately with an identifier. Or you can even send an attribute PDU that affects multiple PDUs by itself. In order to be compliant with DIS 7, all three options need to be managed. Luckily, we do that for you. All you have to do is fill out your data and add it to your object.

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Imagine that you are responsible for modernizing a large and complex simulation system; you must bring its training capabilities up-to-date and leverage new technological innovations. Do you think it’s possible to manage this transformation while maintaining interoperability with existing systems? It’s entirely possible "“ and it’s been done with MÄK.

When the US Air Force needed to modernize their Air Warfare Simulation (AWSIM) system, they needed to improve interoperability among their own applications and maintain interoperability with the broader joint forces’ war gaming systems. They chose HLA Evolved as the interoperability architecture in part because of its more flexible approach to managing federation object model (FOM) extensions. HLA Evolved enables federation designers to agree on the common core of a FOM for broad interoperability, and use FOM modules to address specific communication needs within the Air Force systems. (continued...)

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To ensure successful training of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), the simulation scenario must be believable; to deliver that training scenario to many students, it must be repeatable. To be believable, the scenario needs accurate background activity to clutter the scene and make it difficult to identify and track the suspected high valued individual (HVI). The HVI needs to have subtle behavioral clues that expose the HVI. To be reproducible, the HVI must perform his predetermined task regardless of what the background entities are doing - any unpredictable actions lead to inconsistencies that detract from the training. (continued...)

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If you stopped by the MÄK booth at I/ITSEC 2013, it’s likely that you walked away with some bright red stress balls, one-of-a-kind red and white chocolate mints, and ideas about how MÄK can be your partner in all things simulation. This is because we’ve refreshed our branding to focus on our core technologies.

We had a great time at the show this year and a successful week of demonstrating our re-energized simulation behaviors, amped up visualization capabilities, interactive training system demo, and our low-overhead command staff trainer. And we were happy to showcase all of these incredible demos in our brand new booth. (continued...)

booth-front

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Now that VR-Link 5.0 is out and we have added support for DIS Version 7, you might have questions about compatibility between DIS versions and VR-Link. In a nutshell, if everyone is using VR-Link 5.0, there will be no compatibility problems. If you have systems not using VR-Link, or using an older version of VR-Link, then you might have some situations arise.

DIS Version 7 is not fully backwards compatible with previous versions of DIS. If you are sending DIS 7 PDUs, there is no guarantee that the other systems in your exercise will be able to read them. For this reason, by default, VR-Link 5.0 still sends DIS version 6 PDUs. This means that upgrading to VR-Link 5.0 will not suddenly make your exercise incompatible.

If you want to send DIS Version 7, you can set the global variable DtProtocolVersionToSend to 7 (this is defined in the file pdu.h). Now, you are sending DIS 7 compatible PDUs. You can also, of course, set that value to any number between 4 and 7 to send a specific version of the protocol. You can even do this at runtime using the command line if you are using our included command line interface:

DtVrlApplicationInitializer appInit(argc, argv, "VR-Link Application");
appInit.parseCmdLine();

If you are parsing the command line (or loading a VR-Link configuration from a file) simply typing "--disVersion 7" as a command line parameter will force your application to send DIS Version 7 messages.

Receiving legacy PDUs into a VR-Link 5.0 version should give you no problem at all. VR-Link has always been able to support receiving multiple protocol versions even in the same exercise. For years, we have been able to read versions 4-6 of the DIS protocol. Now, you can read versions 4-7. This is regardless of what version you are actually sending. (As an aside, this is also true in HLA where you can mix HLA 1.3 federates with HLA Evolved federates.)

There are two values that define what DIS version you can receive: DtProtocolVersionToRecvMin, and DtProtocolVersionToRecvMax. Both are also located in pdu.h. In nearly all situations you should not need to change these values, since by default they are set to the lowest and highest values that VR-Link can provide.

Those two values exist in older versions of VR-Link as well, although they are set to 4-6 instead of 4-7. If you feel up to it however, you can take an older version of VR-Link and tell it to read DIS Version 7. It will not understand new concepts, but in some cases it understands enough to be able to communicate with newer systems.

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The Military Simulation & Training India 2013 held at the DRDO facility in New Delhi, India on October 29th and 30th brought together top military officers as well as industry and academic subject matter experts to discuss the latest developments and requirements on training and simulation systems for India.

This event presented future requirements of military simulation to include the Army, Air Force, Navy, and defence R&D establishments.

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MÄK knows that the expense of developing and operating simulation environments is high, but we’re committed to reducing that cost.

I’m excited to announce our Q4 limited time promotional offer! We want you to take advantage of our innovative web and mobile technologies alongside our streaming terrain server, saving you time and money immediately.

Now through December 19th, 2013, we are bundling VR-TheWorld, MÄK’s streaming terrain server, with the MÄK WebLVC Suite, a collection of web-based applications that can interact with existing simulations or be a platform for new applications. This bundle gives you ready-to-use thin clients, like a browser-based 2D/3D observer and a lightweight call-for-fire application. Together, the MÄK WebLVC Suite and VR-TheWorld allow you to rapidly create customized interfaces that are easier to use and more intuitive to operate while reducing your overall development time and cost. Don’t let this limited time offer pass you by "“ contact us today at info@mak.com.

Curious about WebLVC? It was launched by MÄK in 2012 to leverage web and mobile technologies within existing or new HLA and DIS modeling and simulation applications. Check out the WebLVC Testbed at www.weblvc.com for some sample applications. For a live demonstration of how these technologies can improve your project, contact us at info@mak.com.

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