See, Hear, Touch & Get Real

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The Advancement In Audio Visual Technology Has Made Simulation Applications Much More Realistic

The possibilities are endless. From simulating flight experiences to surgical procedures, cargo handling to F1 racing and even religious rituals(!), the use of simulators are so common nowadays that almost any vertical industry would be able to find a good use for it.

With the 4K boom and 3D projection mapping trending in recent years, the simulation market has never be en more exciting with images now made sharper and resemble closer to life.

In this special feature, SI Asia explored the types of audiovisual technology used in different simulation systems. Bringing you the perspectives of various end-users and an exclusive interview with one of the leading simulation projector manufacturers, we learned how audiovisual is used in simulation, what are the concerns using AV tools, and overall market potential of simulation.

But before we go into that, let’s begin with a little crash course on simulation systems.

What Is Simulation?
A technique for practice and learning, simulation can be applied to across different disciplines to train operators and/or traine es. Serving as a bridge between traditional classroom learning and real-life execution, simulation allows users to apply their knowledge in a true-to-life settings.

Used as a set of techniques, simulation is mostly used to replace and amplify real experiences with guided, ‘immersive’ ones. Simulation evokes or replicates – to a certain degree – substantial aspects of the real world in an interactive fashion.

Why Use Simulation?
Simulation-based training has been largely successfully across various industries such as aviation, maritime, and military, where high risk and high costs have made it impractical for live training all the time. Furthermore, simulation training has also been proven to dramatically reduce risk, cost, unscheduled maintenance, increase operators/trainees skills and efficiency while maximizing productivity.

Simulations provide trainees and operators a safe environment to learn, practice their skills, and test their response to emergency situations where operators can be shown and assessed for the proper operating technique much more quickly and accurately.

Recently, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has reported that they will be building a $1.3 million training simulator to improve the road-accident rescue skills of its officers. Using 3D goggles, the simulator in discussion will allow officers to interact physically with the 3D models of prop vehicles such as cars and trucks, in a road-accident scenario.

Market Potential
Although simulation is widely used across various industries for training and learning purposes, bulk of the simulation market revenue comes from the military training.

According to Frost & Sullivan’s 2012-2021 market insight report on Military Training and Simulation, it is predicted that the global demand for training and simulation (T&S) is expected to steadily grow at a CAGR of 2.51 per cent between 2012 to 2021. This presents a revenue opportunity of up to $411.06 billion available to the industry.

In the same report, the Market Attractiveness Map has shown the Asia-Pacific region with highest potential growth, at C A GR at 4.36 per cent, followed by Middle East region at 3.92 per cent – making these two regions highly attractive for simulation and simulation-related manufacturers to invest in.

Simulation Modalities
Simulation may use various modalities – with or without different kinds of technologies – to replicate key aspects of the real world. Unlike constructive simulations, which requires no fancy visualization or interaction technologies, immersive simulations require replication of at least three senses: audio, visual, and touch. Also called virtual simulation, this simulation typically involve humans and/or equipment in a computer-controlled setting. Time can be continuous or discreet (depending on the unit). Since it uses computer to generate graphics and sound, audiovisual hardware are often used here to create a synthetic, interactive environment where representation of the scenario is fed to the eyes and ears.

Creating An Immersive Simulation
According to Lin Yu, Vice-President, Christie Asia Pacific,

“Simulation environments come in many different forms, shapes, and sizes, and use a wide range of technologies. The two major components are the visual display system and the actual, physical components that duplicate the type of machinery the user is being trained on.”

Firstly, using a computer model of the simulation, installers/integrators will need to decide on the means of tracking visual, audio and touch fields of the user so as to determine what is to be displayed and to identify what physical action are being performed for each simulated scenario.

Next, it is important to source for appropriate display hardware for every sensory modality and appropriate input hardware for each action pathway (e.g., touch, spe ech) so that the user’s interaction with the machinery is interpreted correctly by the system. Last but not least, the hardware to compute scenarios, conduct tracking, and produce resulting audiovisual outputs in real time is equally important as well.

Role Of Audiovisual
To deliver realistic sensory stimuli, the audiovisual equipment play an essential role.

For visual display of the scenarios/ images, simulation projectors or large-format displays are often used to provide the visual stimulus to the user. Ranging from wide-angle 3D projections to 4K curved displays, the choice of visual hardware depends on the type and objective of the simulation. For example, the mobile version of the F1 Racing Simulator by RAVE Productions has used displays for the visual presentation of the race track, while for a fixed residential installation, projectors were used instead to create a more immersive, realistic racing experience.

So what are some other important factors to look out for when installing visual display? NEC Asia Pacific’s Display Solution Architect, Ranjit Singh, explained,

“The factors would differ for different applications. The projection area, distance of the viewer from the image would drive the resolution required and ambience light needed will drive what technology is required.”

To fool the human senses, audio is another area that is important in a immersive simulation. Using surround acoustics, simulating the sounds/audio aspects of the scenario creates another level of realism. While the sound quality is just as important as in any AV projects, aesthetics of the speakers are usually less of a concern as they are usually concealed in most simulation units.

Enhanced Simulation Experience
To conclude, immersive simulation is a rapidly developing fi eld. With the advancement of audiovisual technology, more realistic visuals are made possible, upgrading the experience of simulation. For instance, the proliferation of large-format displays, 3D projections, 4K projectors and curved displays have provided more visual options for simulators.

Due to new technology breakthrough, many end-users have had the intention to upgrade their current visual hardware to provide a better simulation experience. One such client would be end-users like RAVE Productions who owned the F1 simulators.

“We have intentions to upgrade the displays of our mobile units to curved screens, so as to give a more immersive feeling.” said Prem Lulla, Event Director of RAVE Productions.

There is intense interest in virtual reality in a number of domains, particularly in the training, education and entertainment industry, making it a very exciting market to look out for.

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*This article was first published in the Feb-Mar 2015 issue of Systems Integration Asia. 

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