Training Simulators and Gaming Experience in Virtual Reality
Although the performance of the VR - program requires a computer with a fast CPU and accelerated video subsystem to work with three-dimensional graphics, many are associated with the VR HMD helmets and digital gloves. HMD helmets were constructed after the mid-1950s in experiments where the engineers have mounted stereo camera on the top floor of the building and developed a two-screen display, which allows not only to play what the camera was recording, but also, with a certain extent, to carry out a security camera tasks. The resulting image feels more like a distant reality than virtual, because the images were real and there were not computer graphics elements. The first step to work with computer graphics have been developed in the mid-1960s, and the invention of digital glove is dated in the middle of the 1980s. Now everyone knows that using digital glove, you can mimic the gestures or moving objects in VR environments.
By the mid-1990s, virtual reality was at the forefront mainly in areas such as interactive computer games and computer modeling. Even now, gaining experience in virtual reality is very important not only in the creation of much more sophisticated computer games, but in more important areas and scientific fields concerning our lives. Moreover, virtual reality, so widely used in games gradually is entering the field of serious science and the development of new technologies. We could even say that these two main directions of development are associated respectively, with the entertainment industry and serious science based industry and evolved in parallel, complementing each other.
The use of VR technology
Even ten years ago the virtual reality technology was no longer just an object of scientific research. Currently there are more than a hundred large-scale installations of virtual reality, which are used in various fields of science and technology, solving problems of know-how in fundamental scientific disciplines and highly specialized application areas. With such systems are operating now most of the leading companies like Boeing, Ford, General Motors, VR and many others.
That kind of digital power is rapidly becoming cheaper, electronic components, too. And if five years ago, virtual reality systems cost millions of dollars, now they can be implemented in the ordinary PC configuration and they arent so expensive anymore for sure. The situation creates new specific devices for new virtual reality systems.. Helmets, cubic (three-dimensional) mouse, gloves, etc. (for the majority of these devices we do not even have the established terms yet).
According to the forecast of the British research firm Frost & Sullivan (2005), in the future virtual simulators and entertainment will make the greatest contribution to the turnover of virtual reality systems, which will reach nearly 20 billion dollars.
In early March last year, a number of leading IT-companies (including Samsung, Motorola, Microsoft, Sharp, Itochu, NTT Data, Sanyo Electric and Sony) have created a 3D Consortium, whose mission is to develop technical and software standards for 3D-devices. Today, there are already 65 companies which gain a part of their profit (and they are not only computer developers) but banks, newspapers, advertising companies, etc...
3D Consortium organizers say that in the next five years, the annual market volume of 3D-devices will reach 25 billion dollars. And it is quite possible to happen.
VR and the industry
One of the first to experiment with the virtual reality in their production was the American corporation General Motors. The risk paid off: established in 1994 in Detroit, the center of a virtual reality cost the concern $5 million, and savings in the development of new models of cars amounted to about 80 million!
The fact that the use of the virtual reality system allows to remove a new model of the operation from the process of developing such as the creation of Plasticine layout scavenging life-size model in a wind tunnel and crash tests. All these manipulations were produced by engineers and designers purely in virtual space, where changes are not subjected physically and electronically to the body of vehicle prototype.
Similarly, the problem was solved with the ergonomic interior, the layout of the engine compartment and maintainability of components and assemblies for future machines. For example, if a node is inaccessible, the model goes from the engineers to designers, who are "on the fly" capable to adjust any body component interfering the model and get it to the right place. Then, the electronic model will be referred back to the engineers.
After General Motors such centers of virtual reality were acquired by Volkswagen and Ford. So, Ford acknowledges that the introduction of a virtual reality system design center in Merkenich (Germany) and Dunton (UK) reduced the development time of a new car from 42 to 24 months. The most impressive result of the introduction of this technology was the Audi A3 (the brand Audi now is part of the Volkswagen Group), which was developed almost without the use of real models.
Simplistically, we can say that virtual reality is an artificial world that exists inside the computer. Models of objects, functioning in this world can interact not only among themselves but also with the person or group of people.
In today's virtual reality system is used for producing is a new stage in the development of well-known computer-aided designs and modeling systems.
And all the fancy and expensive devices - projection systems, special helmets, gloves, suits - by which is transmitted not only the image, but also the sound and tactile sensations are nothing more than usual digital information. However, virtual reality systems have one fundamental difference: no installation of computer-aided design and modeling does not allow a person to control the behavior of the model in real time.
The cheapest personal virtual reality systems can cost from a few to tens of thousands of dollars. However, they have a major drawback: such systems are usually not allowed to work collectively. But without a collective decision-making, we lose the opportunity to organize a continuous production cycle, so that all the preparatory work took place in the virtual world and the real world of the new product would have changed in the form of small-scale samples.
Full-featured virtual reality system is, more precisely, the center of virtual reality (hardware and software). It worth from a few tens of thousands to several million dollars. The development of the virtual world, depending on its complexity and specificity will cost from 2-3 up to 100 thousand dollars. What production any company will get in return? First of all - reduced development time. For example, the use of virtual reality systems in the automotive industry reduces the cycle of preparation of a new model for mass production from 18 months (in the US and Western Europe) up to six months. At the same time much less time is required for the vehicle finishing, because all the questions about the salon ergonomics and maintainability of components or assemblies are resolved at the stage of electronic prototyping (the debugging of serial machines using standard technology takes a relatively long period - from several months to a year).
Acceleration of development leads to the creation of competitive advantage: the average lifespan of a model on the assembly line - two or three years. That amount of time is taken for development of a new car or for a restyling of the old one. It is the main role of the producing factor of survival among a severe competitive environment.
Virtual reality is used also when one is working with geographic information data. Thus, the company Reality AS, recently bought Schlumberger Information Solutions (SIS), and the Fraunhofer Institute for Media Communication (www.imk.fraunhofer.de) have developed a virtual reality system, which allows specialists to do properly operational management and Geophysical research and analysis.
Instrumentation Inside Reality of Reality AS provides an unusual, fun and intuitive way of working with Geoinformation data: users can interact with the model of the deposit, using natural hand movements and body and simulating the walking, the indication, and the choice of an object. Fraunhofer Institute for Media Communication Toolkit - VR-Geo - uses a special device to manage geographic information data - the cubic mouse, which has twelve degrees of freedom and allows a person to navigate quickly and easily.
The impressive results using Inside Reality reached also the company Norsk Hydro. That company was able significantly (in some cases - 90%) to reduce the design time of horizontal wells and, as a consequence, to achieve a more accurate planning and substantial increase in their oil production.
In general, virtual reality systems are used in industry where it is necessary to work with three-dimensional data. And we should say that it is practically everywhere. Examples are many and commercially justified.
Of course, the most obvious is the use of VR systems in the entertainment industry. Such systems (known as centers of interactive virtual reality) usually use the concept of electronic counterparts. They are built on the principle of theater, where the audience can participate in a play. It is important to note that the management of the electronic character of a person requires a completely different motor than the actual motion.
VR training simulators
A variety of exercise equipment using virtual reality elements are implemented nowadays to tank units, the Navy and the civilian sphere. Many trainers and simulators exist for almost all devices that require manual control.
Virtual reality systems are used in enterprises focused on the training of a personnel, engaged in hazardous areas of production, such as forging shops. Motorola managed to save several million dollars by the virtual learning and virtual manuals for repair. Boeing boldly invests tens of millions in the creation of virtual instructions to repair its aircraft.
Trainers and simulators, as a rule, are not cheap, but their use increases the quality of the training of professional students and are highly justified commercially. And after all, more or less, the most of them are products based on the gaming experience in virtual reality.