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A common question from people who are new to VR-Forces:“How easy is it to create new scenarios in VR-Forces?” It’s a good question to ask when you are evaluating CGFs. The answer is always: &ldquoIt depends.”

There are obviously some very complicated scenarios you could dream up that would make scripting them quite complicated and difficult. That said, most scenarios are very easy to script. At the end of this post, you’ll watch a scenario with a helicopter flying over some mountains - I whipped this one up in about three minutes. It runs a bit faster than real time, so you can enjoy it in about one minute or so.

After I create the scenario, I slow it down, play it, and show some of the new 3D/2D integrations that are making VR-Forces 4.0 so popular.  As a bonus, I also demonstrate a new feature coming to VR-Forces 4.0.4 in June. We’ve overhauled our machine gun model and added chain guns to helicopters and other vehicle types, which is something customers have been asking about for a long time.

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In our effort to continually make the user experience better, I wanted to show a small feature we are adding to VR-Forces 4.0.4  -- due out in June 2012 -- which allows users to choose what plug-ins to load when they start VR-Forces. This is a pretty simple feature that’s best described with a picture:

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This week I am exhibiting at ATC Global 2012 in Amsterdam. There are 5000 attendees and 200 exhibitors here focused on Air Traffic Management - more specifically, the next generation Air Traffic Management systems being built in the US and Europe. 

So far, theres been lots of interest in our visualization and simulation interoperability solutions. I’ve seen several booths use Google Maps as an interim visualization tool because they didn’t realize that there is a more flexible option - VR-TheWorld and VR-Vantage. 

High Level Architecture (HLA) is becoming the recognized standard for ATM simulations and I have had several enquiries as to how MÄK can help with simulation interoperability. Customers are relieved when they learn that there are MÄK products, such as VR-Link, that do all of the hard coding work for them.

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Today I want to give a sneak peak of a coming VR-Forces feature. When we release VR-Forces 4.0.4 early this summer, users will be able to control aircraft in a new and intuitive way. 

Lots of people use VR-Forces to set up complex scenarios with aircraft. Historically this has been done with routes and waypoints. It means you must plan out your routes or set several waypoints, then build plans for your aircraft to move over the routes or between the waypoints. It’s a logical way to script air scenarios, but for pucksters who move a lot of aircraft around in real time, it’s quite complicated. 

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I am pleased to announce the extension of the VR-Forces 3.12.x maintenance period to December 31st, 2012. While we have seen many customers quickly migrating to the VR-Forces 4.x platform, MÄK understands there are still many other customers who face complex schedules and tight budgets who have not been able to upgrade their VR-Forces 3.x based products yet. As a customer focused company, it’s MÄK’s goal to be as responsive as possible to customer needs. We believe this extension will provide the time needed for many customers to upgrade while still supporting existing systems. 

Of course, MÄK is also committed to helping our customers understand the upgrade process. VR-Forces 4.x has a completely improved and redesigned front end, so we understand the upgrade process can be intimidating. MÄK is currently helping customers understand and work through the challenges faced by an upgrade - we want to help you too. While we are helping customers through the normal support channels (support@mak.com), we are also proactively helping through private customer-focused webinars and customer visits. If you are interested in working with us through any of these processes, please don’t hesitate to contact your sales representative (sales@mak.com).  

As always, the content of our releases and maintenance windows are highly influenced by your needs and requirements. Please don’t hesitate to let us know any concerns or questions you may have about VR-Forces maintenance issues, or any other issue for that matter. We will use your input to reevaluate the current maintenance window in October 2012 to determine if further extensions are necessary.  We look forward to hearing from you!

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AUSA is winding down. It was a great success and many visitors saw the value of an embedded training solution for SRI’s TerraSight system based on our simulated video capability and rapid scenario generation.  Bob was a trooper, braving the 80 degree heat, and demonstrating our software in the back of SRI’s Hummer out in the car park. I had the luxury if manning the MÄK pod on the VT Systems booth in the air conditioned exhibit hall. There we showed our Broward County Convention Center scenario created from scratch in just a couple of days.

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Ft. Lauderdale in February, AUSA is a great show to attend. This week we are showing how our simulated video technology can be used for stimulating SRI’s real-time video exploitation solution, TerraSight. We’re simulating a UAV flying over the convention center and vehicle traffic in the area.  Using VR-Vantage, we create the sensor view from the UAV and stream that video to TerraSight using MISB standard protocols.  By replicating the exact same data feed that a UAV would produce, integration was seamless. While I was explaining how this system could be used for training, mission rehearsal, or experimentation to a customer, they kept looking in the sky for the UAV. It wasn’t until I unattached the eye point from the UAV and flew around a bit that they were convinced it was a simulation.

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I talk to a lot of customers and I keep hearing the same thing when it comes to the VR-Vantage Developer’s Toolkit... needs more documentation! Sure, people are always asking for stuff (and please continue to do so!) but even if we have an awesome API, it’s no good if people can’t figure out how to use it.

Along with providing new capabilities like Simulated Video and Effects Based Sensors, we plan to do a lot of work on our class documentation and examples during the 1.5 development effort. We also will be adding a bunch of tutorials that will walk developers through a series of examples that demonstrate the various layers of the VR-Vantage architecture or go in depth into a specific area.

But I didn’t think there was any reason to hold that stuff back if we had some of it done already so when we ship the VR-Vantage 1.4.1 maintenance release in a few weeks it will have the beginnings of this documentation work. Check out the classDoc and tutorials sections and let us know what you think!

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You have to hand it to Singapore. They sure do know how to put on an Air Show. There’s nothing like holding a pleasant conversation with customers or colleagues only to be interrupted by the roar of an F15 jet passing right in front of the door then ascending like a rocket straight into the clouds. Very impressive. 

MÄK is presenting in two locations at the Singapore Airshow. Our COTS products are on display at the TME Systems booth and our Battle Lab (a.k.a. ISR Lab) is in the Ideas section of the ST Engineering booth. 

The Battle Lab is getting a lot of attention. Some are attracted by the analysis graphics shown in the AGI SimMetrics display and others by the Simulated Video streaming from the UAV’s sensor IG through the comms model to the Ground Control Station. 

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It is great to see so many existing and potential customers at the Singapore Air Show this week.  Tomorrow (Friday) will be the last commercial day with this weekend open to the public.  MÄK is currently exhibiting in two locations this week.

All of our products and tools are currently being demonstrated in TME’s booth B-11:“ MÄK’s reseller for Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.  Customers are receiving live demonstrations of the latest release of VR-TheWorld Server v2.0 streaming terrain, imagery, and now cultural features.  We are also showing VR-Vantage v1.4, as well as the rest of the MÄK suite of products such as VR-Forces and VR-Link.

We invite you to stop by Friday if you haven’t already seen the latest state of the art technology in modeling and simulation!

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Some of you may have noticed that MÄK has recently started supporting the SUSE Linux Operating System in some of our latest releases.  MÄK has a long history of supporting a wide variety of common Operating Systems. SUSE is a very popular OS in Europe and has been used by our customers for some time through custom ports. With the latest release of VR-Link and the MÄK RTI we are proud to announce we now officially support the platform with our standard interoperability products. That means future versions of both the MÄK RTI and VR-Link will continue to support SUSE.

For a complete list of standard supported platforms, please see the MÄK website. If you have a platform you would like to see supported, please let us know at sales@mak.com.

 

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Last week, MÄK was pretty excited to release of VR-Forces 4.0.3, which included HLA Evolved support! At this point the complete MÄK Product lineup supports the latest version of the HLA Standard. 

This means that users who want to build federations that take advantage of FOM Modules and other HLA Evolved features will now be able to do it with VR-Forces. FOM Modules is a particularly powerful feature. It allows subgroups of Federates in a larger Federation to share FOM extensions without propagating the FOM extensions to everyone; most federates that don’t use the module can completely ignore it knowing that they will get the information they require in the base FOM, while the subgroup will get information from the base FOM as well as the model.

While FOM Modules and other compelling features are encouraging several major sectors of the HLA market to move to HLA Evolved, many existing federations remain firmly tied to HLA 1.3 or DIS. VR-Forces remains firmly committed to supporting each of these interoperability choices. You can rest assured, whichever simulation interoperability choices you make, MÄK stands behind you.

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RTI | |

Earlier this week MÄK released the latest version of the RTI, 4.1. One of the big features of this release was support for IPv6. For those that don’t know much about IPv6, it is the latest version of the Internet Protocol and replaces IPv4. The primary motivating factor behind the creation of IPv6 was the size of the IP address space in IPv4. IPv4 addresses are only 32 bits long. That’s enough for 4,294,967,296 different addresses, but it’s not enough for the size of the internet today.

 

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This is the 6th and final part in my series of blog posts on RTI RID configuration tips. Each of these tips, unless otherwise noted, works in HLA 1.3, HLA 1516-2000, or HLA Evolved. If you’re interested in learning how to make better use of your RID file, check out the previous posts in this series as well.

 

Part 1: RID Consistency Checking 

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Having released VR-Vantage 1.4 it’s time to move on to the next version. We showed several technology demonstations at IITSEC this year and we are in the process of productizing them for VR-Vanatage 1.5. 

Effects based sensors let users visualize NVG, FLIR and other sensor views without materially classifying data. While these sensor visualizations are not physically accurate, they are pretty good and since they don’t require any changes to models or databases they are super easy to use. They still utilize JRM’s world class technology for sensor visualization, just without the high fidelity physics based stuff (which can be enabled via a drop-in add-on module).

Video streaming is also being added. You can stream simulated video from a VR-Vantage channel to a client application in real time. This is usefull for applications like UAS ground operator stations where the simulated video is streamed from the UAS to the operator station.

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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

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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...)

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VR-Vantage 1.4 is here - bringing with it support for a new compiler MSVC++ 10 64 bit! This meant upgrading OpenSceneGraph (to version 3.0.1) and many other dependencies (Silverlining and DI-Guy for starters). Additionally a few smaller capabilities were added:

We now support HLA Evolved, allowing VR-Vantage applications to play in exercises with modular FOMs. We also added more examples and better documentation for the developer’s toolkit (a trend you will see continue over the next several releases). There are also a few customer requests in here too: an object count panel, a space attach mode for attaching to satellites, an option for linear model scaling, and a way to use images for 2D symbols instead of fonts.

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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.

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Since this was my first tradeshow, I wasn’t quite sure what was in store for me, but it’s safe to say that in my four days on the show floor, I’ve learned quite a bit. Not only have I learned a great deal more about our company and industry, but also about my area of expertise, Battle Command:“ who’s using it, how they use it, and how to best and most effectively answer questions for the training classes I help teach.

For my first ever tradeshow experience, I’m surprised by how smoothly things have been going. The set-up of my Battle Command pod went well and the demos I’ve given have been positively received by customers, potential customers, and MÄK staff alike.

I’m looking forward to more I/ITSEC experiences in the future!

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