Bohemia Interactive Simulations (BISim) is showing the release version of VBS Blue IG at the Interservice/Industry Training Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2017 later this month in Orlando, Florida. It will feature more realistic scenes with shadowing, 3-D trees, longer view distances and higher frame rates.
Ahead of I/ITSEC, BISim began showing a new tech demo facility in Orlando, Florida to industry members and media. It featured the company’s latest tech in VBS Blue IG and several virtual reality training solutions.
“This room has always existed. It first was a training room,” said Kevin Killoran, BISim game design manager. “I would say probably six months ago we converted it into a demo facility, but maybe two months ago is when we really hit the bricks.”
Now the demo room features slick black walls and rows of desktop training computers running VBS3, the primary version of the company’s desktop infantry training software, alongside a large dome display, multiple virtual reality setups and a chair from the movie Top Gun.
Many of the displays, sound systems and other hardware were assembled as a collaborative effort with other industry players.
“We really started engaging local industry, and industry in general, to work on integration [with outside hardware and software], work on systems and have their stuff on display as well,” said Killoran. “It’s great for relationship building, but also good for testing. We can now safely say our stuff works on this company’s dome, our stuff works with this company’s software, our stuff works on this rendering software.”
The primary feature of the room, however, is VBS Blue IG.
“[VBS has] always stayed in this niche of desktop tactical training,” said BISim co-CEO Pete Morrison. “What we’ve been working on for the past couple of years is taking this technology and modernizing it, and moving into the image generation space.”
Over the past couple of years, they rebuilt the VBS game engine from Microsoft’s DirectX 9, with a flat-earth terrain box, to DirectX 11 with a whole-earth engine. This new technology can render the entire planet and is able to integrate with other technology to handle items like physics and artificial intelligence, granting users more flexibility.
With the ability for other programs to integrate with VBS Blue IG, Morrison said the military can continue to use their current accredited programs and leverage the high-fidelity graphics, high frame rate and whole-earth terrain of VBS Blue IG. Before, if the military moved to a VBS based solution it would have to reaccredit all the simulations.
The rollout plan for VBS Blue IG isn’t for a wholesale replacement of VBS3 however. Key to BISim’s approach, all the technology can communicate together. Killoran and Morrison ran through a scenario where a virtual-reality plane simulation running on VBS Blue IG could bomb a target marked by ground troops running on the desktop version of VBS3.
“It’s a really nice example of a new use case, which is naval aviation training [in VBS Blue IG], working with VBS3, which is used for tactical training,” said Morrison. “Even though these are two completely different engines, two completely different products are working together.”
And the scenarios can run anywhere in the world. The demo they showed to guests took place over rural Poland, with Morrison pointing how the buildings seen in the scenario are standing there in the real world as well.
BISim is also readying to enter the next stage of a contract with the US Navy to develop virtual reality training solutions for aircrafts, reducing costs without losing effect.
“The important thing about this solution is it’s using the same simulation as that dome over there,” said Killoran, pointing to a curved dome display running VBS Blue IG, “and it’s much easier, cheaper and more deployable than the other system.”
The system is about two years out from actual training use. But the next contract will focus more on mixed-reality, using a physical cockpit with all the correct tactile switches, and the environment outside will be the virtual world running VBS Blue IG. Only four aircrafts are available in the current prototype, with the plan to make every aircraft usable like in VBS3.
Alongside showing the release version of VBS Blue IG at I/ITSEC, BISim will also have three virtual reality workstations, a D-Box chair, CM Labs chair and a Brunner chair with full 360-degree movement.