A look at how an IK company with a rich gaming history solved the simulation sector’s realism problem
Serious Simulations builds ambitious training systems for a range of uses, helping professionals do their jobs and save lives. Offering ‘mixed reality’, their systems combine cutting edge hardware and software with virtual reality, real world props, and real-time motion capture. The systems are among the most advanced in the world, but in the realm of simulation and training, where realism and immersion matter most to success, customers were demanding more than was previously available.
And there Serious Simulations had a problem. They needed to push their cutting edge systems even further, introducing entirely believable characters and scenes that precisely replicated dramatic real world situations. So they turned to IKinema.
IKinema is a leading inverse kinematics company with a wealth of games and movie industry experience, and a heritage in space exploration. And they knew just what to do to help Serious Simulations – and the wider simulation space.
Here IKinema’s CEO explains what his company offered Serious Simulations, and what the potential is for others in the sector.
What was the challenge Serious Simulations was facing with its mixed reality simulations, in terms of IKinema’s relevance?
The problem they had was one of offering users convincing characters and movement, which was undermining a given simulation’s capacity to convince the user. As a tool training a user to handle real world situations, a simulation must be utterly convincing to be credible.
IKinema provided ways to make the simulations and their characters more convincing, and improved the motion capture of participants in the real world, so as to better represent them in the mixed reality simulation. We also offered ways to blend the participant and their in-simulation avatar, again making the training more immersive and convincing.
In a simulation the real-world participant needs to exist in the virtual world as if they are really taking part. Serious Simulations needed to make a tremendous leap forward in the realism of their simulations, without compromising the technology already in their mixed reality systems. IKinema made that possible.
What did IKinema do practically for Serious Simulations’ training systems?
Through real-time capture and solving technologies, we transformed the way characters looked and moved, turning stiff, awkward animations into fluid full-body motion.
The difference was substantial, and participants experienced in simulation systems reported a significant leap forward in realism. We could bring our experience from interactive media entertainment, and our work with motion capture hardware companies like Vicon. That has given us a lot of experience in bringing real-time subjects to virtual settings, and this gave serious Simulations an opportunity to take the same realism to their simulations.
Why was IKinema’s technology the right kind of tool for improving Serious Simulations’ offering in this way?
Fundamentally it comes down to the fact we could offer solving across the whole body for this very distinct kind of avatar, by providing a generic full-body engine. We could also offer the ability to better represent the motion of the avatar based on the limited data available in the motion capture volume. It was the quality and versatility of our LiveAction technology that could provide this.
Why is animation especially important for Serious Simulations’ training systems?
Virtual reality environments for training and simulation need to capture the real world as closely as possible. Not only do the lighting and rendering need to be right, but the animation has to be organic and natural to achieve a fully immersive experience.
IKinema has helped movie houses to get a high degree of realism in animation in their blockbusters, and now this expertise is exploited by Serious Simulations in bringing a unique user experience in the virtual world during training and simulation.
Will we see more of this kind of collaboration between simulation and gaming companies going forward?
The serious gaming and simulation space is catching up with media entertainment such as film and games with speed, and already they are demanding the same standards expected in the movie and video games industry. The demand for quality, realism and accuracy in simulation is vitally important, and simulation companies are now looking to the best they can take from media entertainment. That is why they came to IKinema, and I believe this is a trend we will see more from. We believe there are more opportunities for us to contribute to the technology provided by gaming companies, and we are open to more partnerships. We are helping move the simulation space forward by offering a unique solution to making immersive virtual worlds that precisely recreate the real world.
Where can those in the serious gaming and simulation space see more of what IKinema offers?
We will be attending I/ITSEC in Orlando, Florida 1st-5th December with Serious Simulations, and will be available to demo our technology at booth 2704. Ultimately, Serious Simulations were delighted with the results IKinema enabled them to deliver, and are now offering training systems at a level never seen before in the industry. “We chose IKinema because they provided us the most expertise in our specific need for real-time tracking integration to a commercial game engine, as well as the most rapid development to support our aggressive business timetable,” said Serious Simulations’ CEO Christopher Chambers. “We were hugely impressed by the difference IKinema made. We got proof of our end goal’s feasibility in the first 48 hours. The IKinema team are very fast and know this technology extremely well.”
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