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Why Use Simulation? - Success Stories

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Introduction

Simulation has its roots in military applications, but today it has become a household word. We see simulation products just about everywhere: entertainment, medicine, vocational education, public television, real estate sales, airplane accident investigations, ...and the list goes on. The expanding universe of simulation is made possible through advances in electronic technology and, perhaps more significantly, the "creative mind" of the simulation industry.

Simulation is both an art and a science. The former is manifest in the stimulation of the senses, particularly visualization, now possible through animation and other process simulations. As a science, simulation is used to solve problems, demonstrate concepts and substitute for the real world. It is both the means to an end and an end in itself. Simulation has been embraced by the academic community as a science, with programs of study growing through out the world. The basis for this is the demand for this new expertise by those who develop and use simulation technology. As a problem solving technology, simulation may very well be the "calculus" of the next century.

As we look at the widespread use of simulation, it becomes obvious that the technology that originated with military training has "spun-off" to many new areas within the government and in non-military applications. We offer you a brief glimpse of some spin-off applications made possible through "spin-on" technologies. While viewing these, it becomes evident that the simulation industry is having a significant economic impact on the country, and it will continue to do so as the creative genius of man expands.

The Dynamics of the Simulation Industry

Spin-Off ProcessSpin-Off Process

The simulation industry traditionally responded to requirements for training devices, simulators and training systems. These products (and services) were developed in compliance with government specifications. The government procured them in many, if not most cases, without having them, accepting the risk involved. However, many of the products were found to have value on the commercial market either as developed for the government, with some modifications, or simply the technology itself. For example, the overhead projector was developed by the Navy to help teach navigation. Similarly, the carousel projector, designed for target recognition training, is commonplace. These "spin-offs" became successful commercial items. Consequently, the simulation industry was able to benefit from the sales of the commercial products.

Spin-On Process

Spin-On Process

Very often products developed for commercial use have value to the military customer. This has become increasingly so in the past decade. It is especially true for training system components such as microprocessors, including personal computers, displays, image generators, electric motion systems, audio systems, computer software and networks. These technologies are "spun-on" to military applications, dramatically lowering the cost of the overall system. Today, the use of commercial-off-the-shelf hardware and software is not only encouraged, it is mandated. What has resulted is a continous loop of spin-ons and spin-offs, a continual improvement of the products, to the point where it is difficult to pinpoint the origin of the technology. The simulator industry has been able to reap the benefits of this condition.

Spin-Up Process

Spin-Up Process

Ideally, the simulator industry has a single set of processes, brought about by acquision reform and other contributing factors, that satisfy both the military and commercial customers. Some of the examples that you see further in this presentation represent this concept. The simulator industry is beginning to plan ahead for dual use of technologies and, further, recognize the need for reusability of hardware and software components. With this in place, companies become "spun-up" to deliver the same products and services to a wide range of customers.

Simulator Cost and Composition Trends

Simulator Cost and Composition Trends

In the past, most products developed for the military were not affordable to other customers. The development costs attendant to mandated processes and controls and the lack of commercial components (other than piece parts) held costs high. The introduction of computers to the home and office was the beginning of the technology revolution. This, coupled with acquistion reform, resulted in a lowering of costs for the same level of capability. Now, the non-defense consumer can afford to buy a PC-based flight simulator for less than $100 that would have cost the military one thousand times that to develop a short time ago.

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