About Me

My photo
MILITARY TECHNOLOGY (MILTECH) is the world's leading international tri-service defence monthly magazine in the English language. MILITARY TECHNOLOGY is "Required Reading for Defence Professionals". Follow us on Twitter: MILTECH1

19 May 2016

ITEC 2016: Visual Projection, Motion, and Wargaming Dominate Show

Judging by the seemingly ubiquitous uses of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets around the exhibit floor this week at the spacious London ExCel conference centre, next year’s ITEC might not need a physical venue at all. Organisers could deliver the presentations and vendors their marketing pitches through virtual reality (VR); no need for exhibit space, pricey hotels, or overcrowded Docklands Light Railway cars.

The most visible VR example, suspended a few feet above the exhibit floor, was a one-person BEC MS 306-M motion gondola, with a helmet-mounted display, attached to a robotic arm from Buck Engineering & Consulting (BEC).  BEC also collaborated with fellow Reutlingen, Germany company eyevis, using ESP-LWXT-1000 projectors to display images directly on the inner surface of a curved projection dome.

New BEC MS 306-M simulator at ITEC 2016 (Photo: Rick Adams)

BMT Defence Services (UK) announced that their new immersive VR training platform, branded as Engage, will be used in a “walkthrough” training system for Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. BMT’s platform will generate a 3D environment to enable staff to move virtually around the different compartments of the QEC platforms to become familiar with the ship’s layout, and escape / evacuation routes, as well as to identify safety equipment.

Roy Arents, R&D engineer at The Netherlands’ National Research Laboratory (NLR) in Amsterdam, showed MT an early-stage development project which is intended to provide mobile, inexpensive training solutions for fast-jet and helicopter training. The concept – to be developed over the next couple of years – combines VR headsets with touch-screen monitors (with your simulated hand depicted) and 3D-printed buttons and switches to provide tactile feel for cockpit avionics.

A familiar name in cameras, Canon, has opted to market its visual display technology to the training market. Canon Europe showcased a new prototype XEED 4K500ST projector utilising a laser phosphor light source combined with edge-blending technology. Canon claims the device will be the world’s smallest and lightest 4K installation projector. At ITEC, their simulated aerial tour over San Francisco projected on a curved screen using “Marginal Focus” technology was remarkable for its edge-to-edge clarity. “Our heritage in lens technology means that we are well placed to support the unique requirements of the simulation industry,” said Andreas Herrnböck, European Business Development Manager, Visual Communications.

Barco, long known in this market for its visual projection products, surprised with a segue into audio simulation, a cueing variable they suggested has been neglected to date. Instead of using fixed sound positioning, as with most simulation audio systems, Barco’s IOSONO system renders a sound (fast-jet aircraft racing past, rumbling tank treads, human voices) at the correct location where it normally would be relative to the trainee’s position. The sound also follows the object creating it. Therefore, the audio cues trigger where to look, supplementing the realism the visual system provides. The IOSONO audio processor was conceived initially for the cinema and entertainment markets.
Reiser Simulation and Training is using Barco FS35 IR projectors in development of its first full-flight simulator, a Level D device for Airbus Helicopters’ H145. The FFS will be used by the ADAC HEMS Academy (AHA) to train helicopter pilots, emergency doctors, and rescue paramedics in air rescue services.

Esterline Simulation Visual Systems, which incorporates business units formerly part of Barco, announced a contract from Thales to maintain the visual display systems on six ship bridge simulators for the French Navy and to upgrade two of the systems. Five of the six systems feature Esterline’s Treality display, introduced a year ago at ITEC, according to Paul Lyon, Business Development Director.

Esterline was one of three partners in the exhibit hall, along with Bohemia Interactive and Presagis, integrating D-BOX motion-cueing systems. The small-footprint systems can be integrated with most simulators to provide kinesthetic cues that increase the immersiveness of the trainee’s experience.

UK-based J2 Aircraft Dynamics received a contract by US‐based Fidelity Flight Simulation (F2Si) to develop a model of the Airbus EC145 helicopter for an FAA Level 6 flight training device (FTD). J2’s Universal Tool‐Kit enables old and new data to be merged, matching with flight test data, and incorporates an external Blade Element Rotor Model. Paul Jenkins, Senior Vice President of Sales at j2 Aircraft Dynamics, said, “The software can be simply adjusted when more flight data becomes available, providing a continuous improvement platform.”

Addressing one of the conference mantras of collective, multi-national training, MASA Group demonstrated the latest 6.4 version of its automated artificial intelligence wargame, SWORD, which is in use in 15 countries as well as the NATO Center of Excellence for training, analysis, and decision support. The recent upgrade includes new communication models that simulate radio equipment, allowing users to specify radio ranges, and with performance affected by weather, terrain, urban areas, and electronic countermeasures. Another new wrinkle simulates the effects of weather conditions such as fog or heavy rain on a vehicle’s speed and other performance metrics.

Rick Adams, London