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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.

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In the next few blogs I want to talk about a new exciting product MÄK is working on with AGI”SimMetrics. SimMetrics is a cool product that uses AGI’s analytics and MÄK’s visualization to model sensors, sensor tracking, the GPS Constellation, and GPS receivers to produce a real time analytical capability integrated with your simulation environment. All of this is done to add high fidelity real time Intelligence, Surveillance, and Recognizance (ISR) capabilities to your simulation environment. To model a high fidelity ISR capability, you need to know where you are and where your targets are. SimMetrics helps you easily do both.

To help you understand where you are, SimMetrics models the entire GPS constellation taking into consideration both your position and the calendar time.


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This week MÄK is presenting at the Air Traffic Control Association Conference Exhibition in National Harbor (across the river from Washington DC)

We’re demonstrating the simulation technologies that are helping our customers at the FAA Tech Center study system concepts to improve pilot’s abilities to make decisions in bad weather.

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Last week a couple of other MÄKers and I once again made the trip down to Orlando to attend the biannual Simulation Interoperability Workshop (SIW). I’m sure many of you are familiar with the workshop, but for those of you who don’t know it, SIW is where people in the simulation industry from around the world meet to discuss the work they’ve been doing in simulation interoperability and develop the standards that the industry uses. This is where standards such as HLA and DIS are developed.

The workshop consisted of the usual presentations and development group meetings. To me, one of the most interesting was the RPR FOM revival meeting. There is a new push right now to restart the RPR FOM Product Development Group (PDG) and finalize the RPR FOM 2 standard. There are currently several draft versions of the standard, but nothing official. As a result, different simulations will end up using slightly different versions of RPR 2. At MÄK, we’ve added support in our products for a few of the more popular RPR 2 drafts, but we are definitely interested in seeing the standard finalized. We’re excited to be part of the RPR FOM 2 standardization effort, and we hope that RPR will continue beyond that as well. After all, the new version of DIS is nearing completion, so the RPR FOM will need to keep up.

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Today I wanted to give you another glimpse of some technology which is coming to MAK products like VR-Forces and VR-Vantage: streaming feature data.

Future versions of VR-TheWorld server will be able to load and stream geospatial feature data, including VMAP, .shape, and S57, among others. There are many applications for streaming feature data, but one of the better ones is to use to to generate richer terrains from raw source data. Currently VR-The World, VR-Vantage, and VR-Forces support streaming imagery and elevation source data. Adding streaming feature data will allow for the automatic extrusions of buildings and the placement of line, point, and areal models on top of the streamed imagery. It means when you walk off your embedded hand modeled open flight terrain (See Blog“How to get your terrain embed”), you will still be in a 3D world full of fairly rich objects.

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Okay, the title this week was a little weak, it was an attempt at a good pun on par with the Economist’s discussion of the S&P Downgrade:“Substandard & Poor: AAAaaargh! (ARTICLE)”. Sorry"¦

As many of you know, MAK’s vision of the future of terrain is a combination of live streaming source data coupled with high resolution insets. The idea is, you still need to obtain (or create) high fidelity terrain databases largely by hand. However, the technology to generate moderate fidelity terrain from streaming source data (imagery, elevation, and feature data) is getting better every day. So, the world you want is one where the hand generated terrain is smaller and smaller and well blended with the source data providing the rest of the world. In this world you may generate a DB for your base of operations, and a DB for the area where you will insert after a helo to fight. However, the space between the base and the extraction point will be procedurally generated to appear to be high fidelity from the perspective of the helicopter. Such blending should let you go from space to someone’s dining room table. In the three pictures below we embed the hand crafted OpenFlt DB "VR-Village" into the broader world as supplied by VR-The World ( (Yes, the transition is smooth and beautiful).

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The title today is a bit of a positive spin on a few problems we have had with VR-Forces. Perhaps, we should say“VR-Forces 4.0.1: were sorry, but we will be better.” It’s important to always be honest, even when you make a mistake. With the introduction to VR-Forces 4.0 we were so excited about new visualization, we left out some important features. You let us know we messed up, and we understand. With VR-Forces 4.0.1 we have started to add the features back in, and have put most of the other features on a priority list where they will show up in VR-Forces maintenance releases later this year.

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Okay, so B-HAVE 2.0 is done and most people might think the coolest bit about this release is that path data will generate 60 times faster. Yes, my spelling is often poor, but my numbers are perfect: I said 60 times faster"¦ Yikes SIXTY? Yep.

But let’s not talk about that, the really cool bit is the funky colors:

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One of the new features in VR-Forces 4.0.1 is support for launching counter measures (chaff and flare) from fixed-wing and rotary-wing entities.

Counter measures are enabled by default, so you don’t have to do anything to take advantage of them. If you run the embark demo scenario that comes with VR-Forces, you will see them being launched by the opposing force helicopters that are attacking the airport.

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Pattern-of-Life analysis is becoming increasingly important in today’s military. It revolves around the continuous observation of behavior patterns for a population, town, or street. Most people and populations tend to have very distinct patterns in our lives. We get up, brush our teeth, go to work, go to lunch, go home, kiss the kids, and go to bed. Okay, maybe your life is more interesting than mine, but when you think about it in the big picture people in general are fairly predictable. This gives way to the“See something, say something” signs we see in airports. On a subconscious level everyone recognizes patterns in our lives: we wear winter coats when it’s snowing and shorts when it’s hot. When someone is wearing a winter coat and it’s hot outside, you notice it.

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We are adding a new compiler to our list of supported compilers. VR-Vantage 1.4 will introduce support for Microsoft’s latest compiler: MSVC++ 10.0 64bit.

We will also be upgrading many of our 3rd party dependencies to provide our customers with the latest improvements. We will move to OSG 3.0.1, Qt 4.7, DI-Guy 11 just to name a few specifics. We will also be upgrading to a newer version of GL Studio and VR-Link.

This release is intended just to support a new compiler and will not have any new features in it. The benefit is that it will be a very quick turnaround time and we expect this to be out the door sometime around the middle of September.

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We just released VR-Vantage 1.3.1 with support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. It also comes with some great new capabilities like zoom and terrain scaling.

With zoom, you can magnify the view and see things that are far away without changing the observers location. This is useful for UAV sensor applications, ground based binocular views or even periscopes!

Terrain Scaling is a VR-Vantage XR capability that allows you to exaggerate the height of the terrain in order to get a different perspective of the situation. Don’t know which path is an easier climb or drive? Or maybe you want a clearer picture of the relationship between aircraft and the terrain? Exaggerate the slope with terrain scaling and you’ll find out easily!

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By Aaron DuBois - The MAK RTI version 4.0 was released on the same day that IEEE officially released the IEEE 1516-2010 standard, otherwise known as HLA Evolved. We were very excited to be able to fully support the new version of HLA from the very first day the standard was out. The down side, however, is that we did all of our development for RTI 4.0 before the standard was finalized, and even at the very end there were minor tweaks happening. Unfortunately we failed to capture the very last change made to the C++ API. As a result, versions 4.0-4.0.3 of the MAK RTI were built against a nearly-final version of the C++ headers, which means that those versions are not quite compatible with the final version of the specification. The new release of RTI 4.0.4 fixes this, and is now built against the final version of the header files.

The final change that was not included in the previous RTI versions was related to a defect in one of the final draft versions of the specification. We actually wrote about this defect in a previous blog post. The problem was with the createFederationExecution RTIambassador methods. There were three variations of this method, each with different input parameters. Some of these parameters contained default values, and as a result there was an ambiguity between two of the variations. We mistakenly thought that there hadn’t been time to get a fix for this ambiguity into the spec, but apparently it did make it in after all. The third variation was renamed to createFederationExecutionWithMIM.

So what does this mean? If you are an RTI customer, but are currently using HLA 1.3 or 1516-2000, this doesn’t affect you at all. The new version of the RTI contains a few bug fixes, so you may want to upgrade anyway, but the HLA Evolved API change won’t be a problem unless you decide to move to the new standard. If you are using HLA Evolved, however, we strongly recommend that you upgrade to the new release and recompile your federate against the new header files. If you were using the third variation of createFederationExecution you will also need to edit your code to use the renamed method. Otherwise, no code changes are necessary. Once you recompile your federate, it will then be truly compatible with the final version of the HLA Evolved specification.

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By Tom Stanzione - As VP for Technical Outreach at MÄK, part of my job is to coordinate with universities that participate in our Research with MÄK and Teaching with MÄK programs. Last month, I visited George Mason University in Fairfax, VA to meet with the Center of Excellence in Command, Control, Communications, Computing and Intelligence (C4I). The Center is currently working with Brazil’s Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (ITA) in San José dos Campos on a very interesting project.  Dr. Mike Hieb and his colleague Henrique Marques are using our VR-Forces constructive simulation to develop a testbed for future command and control research. They are currently using the testbed to develop an advanced planning algorithm for emergency response asset management and route planning. If you are a university professor or researcher and are interested in finding out more about our programs with education institutions, please contact me at or 1.617.876.8085 x109.

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By Brett Wiesner - Recently I gave a presentation at IMAGE 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona and at an NDIA meeting in Fairfax, Virginia on the benefits of Open Streaming Terrain (OST). I thought I’d share just a brief synopsis of that here.

Terrain databases are an important part of any simulation and there are four main approaches for building terrain databases. You have hand modeled terrains that are built by artists and 3D modelers. There are tool generated terrain databases that are built by terrain generation tools. You have direct from source terrains that are constructed on the fly from source data in the client application. And finally you have streaming terrain, where content is streamed from a sever to a client directly. Each of these terrain approaches has its advantages and drawbacks.

Open Streaming Terrain (OST) is a kind of streaming terrain, where the data (elevation, imagery and feature data like roads and building footprints) is streamed from a server to a client using open standards. It’s the open standards thing that’s the important part. See, by using WMS, WFS, TMS or any of the open standards looked after by an open governing body like the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) or Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) you can build an application that“talks” to other compliant applications and can take advantage of petabytes of free (or fee) source data thats out there on the internet right now.

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By Brett Wiesner - We know we needed to get a linux build of VR-Vantage out to customers ASAP but we felt like sneaking in a few more features along the way was a good idea. We will release VR-Vantage 1.3.1 around the end of July with support for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 and also some great new capabilities like zoom and terrain scaling.

With zoom, you can magnify the view and see things that are far away without changing the observers location. This is useful for UAV sensor applications, ground based binocular views or even periscopes!

Terrain Scaling is a VR-Vantage XR capability that allows you to exaggerate the height of the terrain in order to get a different perspective of the situation. Don’t know which path is an easier climb or drive? Or maybe you want a clearer picture of the relationship between aircraft and the terrain? Exaggerate the slope with terrain scaling and you’ll find out easily!

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When VR-Forces starts up, it needs to connect to a DIS or HLA exercise. To do that, you need to specify at least a minimum set of configuration parameters. The VR-Forces Launcher provides a graphical user interface for specifying these parameters. It is ideal if you want to run in combined mode (one front-end and one back-end that start together) or in independent mode (front-ends and  back-end are started separately) with just one front-end and back-end.

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As the newly accepted Secretary for the National Training Systems Association (NTSA) Executive Committee, I wanted to let people know what great work the committee does in the training and simulation community. The following three examples demonstrate how the NTSA Executive Committee provides leadership, volunteers, and support:

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The default behavior of the VR-Forces startup process is designed to get you up and running quickly. However you can customize the process to meet your workflow, as follows:

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VT MÄK is pleased to announce the release of VR-Vantage 1.3, which includes the new VR-Vantage PVD and our terrain and model viewer, VR-Vantage FreeView.

The new VR-Vantage PVD, which is based on the VR-Vantage architecture, provides a 2D interactive tactical map display of a virtual environment.

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