I/ITSEC: Cutting Edge Simulation and Training Trade Show Coverage

Just before CES we took off for sunny Florida to see the best simulation hardware and software the world has to offer.

@TweakTown
Published Tue, Jan 24 2012 7:15 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Manufacturer: I/ITSEC

Introduction

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VIEW GALLERY - 41 IMAGES

Late last year we were invited to attend the I/ITSEC trade show with AVADirect. I/ITSEC or Interservice / Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference is the premier trade show for military, defense contractors and the supporting cast of companies that make the US military the best prepared in the world.

The show covers a wide range of topics and offers education on a wide range of specialties. There were flight simulators as you might imagine, drone flying simulators and several areas that most of us wouldn't think about, like driving a fire truck.

Today we're going to take a look at some really cool technology at the show and see the pictures. Our host for the event, AVADirect had several systems running in the booths, more than any other system builder by far. I've known those behind AVADirect for a few years now and have heard them say their biggest market is government and defense contractor sales, now I see what they mean.

The AVADirect systems powering these massive displays and training tools are not unlike what you and I use to game on, when we build insane systems that cost upwards of $10k to $15K. The difference is these companies don't use just one system; they have several working together to deliver redundant, very powerful FPS beasts that crunch data at very impressive rates.

The Computers

The Computers

Over the last couple of years I've been building some pretty insane street bikes with world superbike parts. In my journey I learn a few things about the difference between building one bike and being a race team with several of them. The difference is just as wide in the professional simulation market. The company's manufacturing these systems aren't using "special" hardware, they are just using the best of everything and they have the money to keep extras of everything, including extra full systems.

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I know a few people with full size 42u racks at home, but none of us have them filled. When you are building computers that control spy drones this is how you roll.

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Our sponsor for this trip had several systems at booths from companies like Lockheed Martin, maker of the F-35 Multirole Fighter. Most of the AVADirect computers were tucked away in the simulators themselves so we weren't able to photograph them. In this industry AVADirect is said to be a superstar with several companies commenting that the systems are built to higher standards then what's offered by the competition.

The Displays

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With Eyefinity from AMD taking hold in the consumer market you know the pros are running some really impressive stuff. This is pretty tame for these guys, but I think we all would love to have something like this attached to our gaming system.

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For the last couple of weeks I've been thinking about building a system like this based on 40 or 42 inch displays. With monitor technology quickly coming down in price and pre-Super Bowl sales coming up, it's a good time to start thinking about your own fantasy build.

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That system was pretty tame too, but for the most part, professional simulation systems use projectors and several of them.

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When it comes to projector technology Sony leads the way with innovative 4K technology. Sony had a next generation 3D 4K projector on display that put up a stunning image.

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One awesome display can never be enough though when you are spending federal government money. This company's simulation software was displayed on six projectors.

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This projector based system looks harmless enough. It was even showing Modern Warfare, but don't let the size deceive you - the price tag for this micro system was right around $25,000.

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If that display isn't big enough for you here is the super-sized version playing Forza. It really doesn't even seem fair; I'll be looking for government grant money in 2012.

The Big Guns

The Big Guns

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Bullets are expensive these days thanks to our liberal left who think they can keep people from buying guns if they can't afford the bullets. Maybe that is why most training is done on simulators these days. OK, maybe not, but it's an election year so my head always goes to blaming the other side for everything.

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This Humvee system was very impressive on all scales. You can see the big M60 on the top and just above the gun is the projector system that is equally impressive. The AVADirect computer systems that control five guns, the displays and the driving controls was tucked away so I couldn't get a shot of the array.

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Most of the weapons used for combat training are actual weapons that have been slightly modified to use infrared lasers that project on the screen where they are picked up by sensors.

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The Coast Guard gets some really cool toys; this simulator allows two people to fly while a third person mans the machine gun.

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"Hey honey, what's for dinner? Oh, I'm just at the show shooting a machine gun and blowing cars up."

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I have to admit that the tracking sensors and software is very precise. I think most of you reading this remember this game, at least I hope so. Don't make me feel old! If you remember the original game you remember the frustration from taking a shot that was spot on, but the duck still got away. Well that doesn't happen anymore with the latest sensors, full auto mode on a mil spec M16 helps a bit too.

The Simulators

The Simulators

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Simulation is in the show title and as you can imagine it was a lot more than just planes, trains and automobiles. I could never imagine how hard it actually is to refuel a jet in midair.

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I spent a few minutes trying to make the connection and just about took both planes out of the sky. Thank goodness it was just a simulation and not the real thing.

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The guys at the front of the plane have a difficult job too. Contrary to what you see in the movies, these big jets can't do a barrel roll without breaking into pieces.

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Helicopters are an even bigger challenge and can't go upside down either.

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It's been quite some time since we've seen virtual reality on the consumer side of things, but the technology is still being worked on.

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This would be the ultimate simulator for every Battlefield 3 player out there. The sphere moves when you walk and you can go in all directions. VR goggles take care of the display and your gun is tracked with sensors.

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We didn't get a clear answer on the price, but it's too tall for most basements anyhow. The garage is a different story, but I think the price is still the biggest obstacle.

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Touch screens also dominated the panel displays.

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For some reason I don't think boats are piloted with Logitech controls, but this company wanted to show their massive display system.

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This simulator is used to train fire personnel who drive the large trucks that hold all of the water. The 0 to 60 time is close to infinity and you can roll a full truck at 20 miles per hour. I had to put that claim to the test.

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Here is the full sized version complete with hydraulics so you can feel the massive body roll while turning a semi loaded with material.

Familiar Faces

Familiar Faces

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A hand full of computer technology companies that we all know had displays at I/ITSEC.

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I didn't even know these guys were around anymore. Their current product takes a video signal out of the video card and lets you run three monitors from a single signal. I would say this is more for an NVIDIA system than it is for an AMD.

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Microsoft's Flight Simulator is now owned by Lockheed Martin and has been renamed Prepar3D. You can now fire missiles and the software has been through a DX11 update. This display was running on an AVADirect notebook that was producing around 60 frames per second.

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If you are a gamer you already know how great the Cryengine 3 is, but you really should see it in 3D.

The Best of the Rest

The Best of the Rest

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There was no way to capture how amazing this 3D technology looked, but I was very impressed. The company can take images or videos and reproduce a real 3D image that lets you see depth AND different angle views. When you move the film the image changes, you can even lean closer to see other angles. The effect is beyond words really, imagine a picture of a car where you can rotate the image and see the front, sides and back of the car as if it were a real model in front of you. I want to get my Ducati done, but just like the sims, the cost is a bit of an issue.

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We've all seen Google Maps and were impressed when it came out, but Google Maps is like old UHF video compared to the cutting edge mapping that is being gathered now.

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Windows 8 is going to get us one step closer to a true touch interface on the PC. It's good to know that large touch screen monitors are already all over the professional market, just a stone's throw away from the consumer market.

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It will be awhile before we are all putting up monitors made from tent material, but we can still dream.

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The flight simulator market has been pretty stagnant since the Jane's glory days, but hopefully one day we'll get another true simulator combat sim.

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Enthusiasts are already adapting multi-monitors for gaming, but we still need companies to produce large surface area versions with slim bezels.

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The one company that was absent from the entire show was Apple. This event was mainly a military conference and liberal MAC users could only be found on the screens, as targets.

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