Chris Lehman, editor, and editorial staff members Jeff Loube, Dim Jones, Walter Ullrich, Chuck Weirauch and Marty Kauchak, provide highlights from the 2012 I/ITSEC exhibition floor, community events and special sessions.

The official theme of I/ITSEC 2012 was the “Power of innovation enabling the global force”: service representatives had a less than global view, focused close to home, as they grasped innovation as the key to salvation and survival. An imminent fiscal cliff does concentrate the mind.

Participants in the General/Flag Officer Panel all made a cry to industry for innovation. Dr Laura Junor, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Readiness, noting that it was essential that that military not be allowed to become a hollow force, stated, “we have no choice but to innovate”.  She stressed that initiatives must be seen to improve readiness in a tangible way and “be very clear in value added” to succeed.

The BBP 2.0 (Better Buying Power) special event mapped out innovations in the acquisition and procurement processes - The Honorable Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for AT&L, speaking remotely from his office, outlined the goals of BBP 2.0 to the participants in the special event, emphasizing that the DoD must do everything it can to execute effectively— “to extract full value from the money with which we are entrusted.” Some relevant phrases included: ‘should’ vs. actual costs, requirements vs. budget, and value for the dollar.

Hastily imposed DoD travel and conference constraints reduced participation of uniformed US military personnel and reduced or eliminated some DoD exhibits. The show felt smaller and was indeed smaller with some 20% fewer registrants than in 2011. The organizers report that there were about 16,000 total registrants this year, down from 20,000. Some remaining numbers (with 2011 in parentheses): conference delegates – 3300 (4000); exhibit visitors – 5900 (7500); exhibiting companies- 561 (590); and international registrants – 1900 (2000) from 75 (56) countries.

Interestingly enough, exhibitors took quite a relaxed attitude to the lower attendance figures and the general mood was better than one might have expected.

Many believed they had better business opportunities since the really qualified visitors and important delegations did show up. “I/ITSEC 2012 was the best show ever for Saab!” said Anders Jonzon, Manager Communications & PR at Saab.

Aechelon’s Javier Castellar, Director of Programs, expressed confidence that the current climate would only strengthen the market for their high fidelity real time computer graphics applications. He sees the market growing for high fidelity simulators as budgets constrain the use of aircraft for training.

On the other hand, several important exhibitors failed to show this year, marking a degree of budgetary constraint.  Among these were BAE Systems, BAES Inc, and all branches of Finmeccanica (eg Alenia, the Selexes, Agusta-Westland).

International Military

In an exhibit sponsored by the Brazilian Defense and Security Industry, the Modeling and Simulation Division of the Brazilian Navy Center for Naval Systems Analysis displayed its Seamanship Simulator, while the Brazilian Army's Simulation Division showed off its Ground Operations Command simulator. The Chilean Army was represented at the exhibit of the Santiago, Chile-based FIDAE aerospace and defense industry organization. The NATO Modeling and Simulation Group exhibit featured a Command and Control Simulation Interoperation demonstration, which included a joint exercise that included unmanned aerial system (UAS) and manned Air Operations elements.

US Military

The Surface Training Systems (STS) division (PMS 339) of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) made its first appearance at the conference. The Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD) highlighted its function as the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship  (LCS) Training Systems Agent by demonstrating the LCS Readiness Control Officer (RCO) simulator integrated with the NCS Navigation Trainer. The LCS Full Mission Bridge Simulator for the LCS 1 variant was also on deck.

Emphasizing its role in human performance development and measurement research for the Navy, NAWCTSD also had on hand two simulation-based performance assessment and measurement tools, including the Adaptive Training for Combat Information Center Teams (ATCIC) program, the Configurable Aviation Trainer-Aiding Learning by Integrating Simulation Technology (CAT-ALIST) program.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) showcased its Integrated. Networked Combat and the Synthetic Teammate Project Environment in collaboration with the Cognitive Engineering Research Institute, while the Air National Guard had on hand its Advanced Joint Terminal Attack (JTAC) simulator and MQ-9 Mission Training Device.

Industry on the Show Floor

Boeing announced they would be entering the T-X competition with a purpose-built airframe. That said they declined to elaborate. It is difficult to see how this is going to be achieved with an accepted ISD of 2020. More from Boeing – we are told – in the first quarter of 2013

SAIC is under contract to deliver 11 Non-rated Crew Member Manned Module (NCM3) to the U.S. Army. The reconfigurable training devices were developed to train the crew chiefs and gunners in the aft section of Boeing CH-47 Chinook and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. Using virtual reality glasses that snap onto the crewmember’s helmet in the same manner as night vision goggles, crewmembers can practice tasks such as gunnery, sling load and hoist operations. The NCM3 simulators can be linked with the Army Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer simulators.

As visual display systems close in on the “holy grail” of achieving close to 20/20 actual visual acuity, sector companies are sharpening their focus on improving other attributes.

In one development, Barco’s new 2,800 lumens SIM 7 series projector, the 7Q-HC, increases the product line’s contrast ratio from 10,000:1 to 40,000:1. Dave Janke, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, said the contrast improvements will increase the fidelity of immersive training, especially for night vision missions for pilots.

Christie unveiled its DualView simulator that can separately compute and render the same scene from two unique points of view with excellent image quality. The new system allows two operators to respond to their own, separately warped, full-screen image simultaneously.

Zoran Veselic, the company’s vice president of visual environment, pointed out the DualView allows configurations like tandem seating, while offering the perfect viewpoint for pilot and copilot – or any two viewing positions – since the images are computed and corrected specifically for their eye points, not a half-way-in-between.

Garth Smith, Meta VR’s co-founder and CEO, noted part of the Pentagon’s commitment to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its JTAC community’s training includes migrating live training tasks to the virtual domain. The company recently sold 14 JTAC simulators to the U.S Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and the Air Combat Command.  MetaVR’s JTAC simulation system is developed jointly with Battlespace Simulations.  The simulation system is accredited to replace live controls (types 1, 2, 3) for both day and night, and for laser target designation with simulated military laser, in accordance with the JTAC Memorandum of Agreement.

VT MÄK announced their WebLVC Server and MÄK WebLVC Suite, both part of their WebLVC initiative, an effort to bring the web to the M&S industry. The goal is to expand the reach of LVC simulations to any computer or mobile device with a compatible web browser and access to a simulation network.

Rheinmetall’s reasonably priced ANTares is a kind of high-quality, “jack-of-all-trades” tactical training device that satisfies a wide range of military needs. It provides fully networked and interoperable air, land and maritime weapon platform simulators in a virtual combat training environment. The system can be used for crew coordination training as well as for preparing entire units and task forces for tactical missions in foreign deployment zones. The individual simulator modules (cubicles) can be installed in containers in a freely configurable order as a plug & play unit.

RUAG’s Role Player Station is the Swiss Group’s response to the increased demand from customers to expand existing virtual simulation systems with low-fidelity, flexible and configurable training capabilities for both new and existing systems. The multi-role simulator can be configured in a very short space of time to serve different roles, for instance that of opponents, civilians or support forces. A main 2D/3D map with an intuitive touch interface allows the realistic tactical control of associated simulated units (computer-generated forces). RUAG used Presagis’ 3D Visualization Kit Vega Prime to create and deploy the visual simulation applications. Presagis also supported RUAG through the whole development cycle.

Indra Systems’ Low Cost Simulation Solutions (LCSS) is the company’s answer to customers’ constrained budgets. The reconfigurable trainer simulates or stimulates the cockpit instrumentation of fixed wing, rotorcraft or ground vehicles. LCSS allows procedural and tactical training as well as mission rehearsal. It fits into one deployable box with no peripherals and can be manoeuvred by one person. LCSS is scalable, with optional controls force feedback system, out-the-window visual dome and night-vision capability. LCSS is HLA compliant and allows tandem mission training and remote and local instructor control for multiple trainers.

3D perception’s StarScan helps cost-oriented customers to regain image quality without repairs or the need to replace old and dented screens. The StarScan retrofit measures both the exact 3D screen geometry and the projected image geometry with absolute precision. It is live-linked to the display processor, where the measurement data are processed and geometric warping and blending is applied to raw source visuals. The result is a precision-aligned, seamless image that is projected onto any screen shape or size in a quality that meets absolute performance requirements.

The Transas Group, a newcomer to I/ITSEC, is a Russian company that provides cost-efficient, competitive naval simulation and training in a global context; however, their Combined-Arms Battlefield Simulator, presented here for the first time was, however, much more interesting. The simulator is a major element of the Russian Armed Forces’ plan to move towards a “virtual battlefield” in military training by 2013. The software and hardware simulator, including CGF, is entirely Russian made, thus following the country’s policy to use exclusively Russian products where available. At first glance, the elements of the Transas simulator shown at I/ITSEC seem to be keeping pace with similar products in the exhibition hall.

Some other exhibits and exhibitors that caught our editors’ eyes:

  • Havok’s collaboration with Rocketbox Libraries to produce high quality 3D Models and Animations, available on licence as an affordable alternative to in-house character rigging and animation and Havok’s own Destruction that simulates, for buildings and other structures, all manner of realistic and satisfying mayhem for the discerning connoisseur of - havoc.
  • The demonstration of augmented reality to support maintenance tasks. Epson’s Moverio BT-100 Android-based See-through wearable display and NGRAIN’s iPad based prototype both demonstrated support to procedural R&I tasks.
  • Forth Dimension’s QGXA-R9 high-resolution near to eye full-colour microdisplay, with applications for HMDs and surgical microscopes
  • SAAB and Chemring’s Safety-Pyro Stun and Frag Grenades, and SAAB’s Next-Generation Personal Detection Device for live instrumented training
  • Kongsberg’s Proteus maritime Swarm trainer, with special application for asymmetric naval warfare scenarios such as the Straits of Hormuz
  • Transas Marine and SAAB’s Fast Boat Firearms Trainer
  • A very effective motion-cueing Martin-Baker seat from Cranfield Aerospace
  • A very capable embedded avionics suite from Elbit, with application to T-X and other low-cost training
  • The novel Hexaline 6 DoF electric motion base from THALES used in their Reality H, helicopter full flight simulator
  • SIMmersion was demonstrating their immersive trainer for “difficult conversations” that develops crucial skills and cultural awareness used in investigative interviews and other interpersonal situations.
  • Bohemia Interactive’s ubiquitous VBS2 seemed to be everywhere J
  • And finally, Norway’s projectiondesign showcased their innovative high performance projection systems and excellent Norwegian chocolate for booth visitors.

Serious Games Showcase and Challenge

As always, the serious games competition was deadly serious and hard fought, but there were some commonalities amongst the bidders for awards: Unity3D’s Davey Jackson, a sponsor, noted with some pride that 50% of the games were powered by Unity.

The winners in the six categories of the Serious Games Showcase & Challenge (SGS&C) were picked from a field of 18 announced in late October, in itself recognition of excellence. The winners of the 2012 challenge are:

  • Business: Virtual Attain by RealTime Immersive;
  • Government: Cross-Competency Cultural Trainer by JKO-J7;
  • Student: Machineers by IT University of Copenhagen;
  • Mobile: DragonBox+ by WeWantToKnow AS;
  • Adaptive Force Training (this year’s special emphasis category): Government in Action by McGraw-Hill Education; and
  • People’s Choice: C-ID Combat Vehicle Detection & Identification by AEgis Technologies.