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The future of consumer legacy of immersive technologies

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Why is such a subject on the “Experiencing the Cloud” blog? One reason is the news relayed in Lockheed’s “retail” flight-sim software causes buzz in industry [Orlando Sentinel, April 10, 2012] article. Please read!

The other, and an even more important reason is that the future of immersive technologies is already getting to be known. Last week I’ve investigated one of the leadership initiatives under way, The Where Platform from Nokia: a company move to taking data as a raw material to build products [April 7, 2012]. Its current state-of-the-art from immersion point of view could best be assessed from  the following video:

Nokia Maps 3D: The World As You See It [nokia YouTube channel, Dec 7, 2011]

With Nokia Maps 3D http://nokia.ly/sdCsrO you can now search for local attractions, restaurants, and shops, and get directions in the world’s most famous cities in photorealistic 3D views. And there’s even more! Luca, our Nokia Maps 3D product manager is going to explain you the latest. Read more on Nokia Conversations: http://nokia.ly/uKb9eO

And here is the approach used in the creation of such a mirror world: Nokia Maps 3D: Making Of [nokia YouTube channel, Oct 24, 2011]

With Nokia Maps 3D (http://nokia.ly/snhwAs) it’s almost like being there. You might be wondering how we manged to get such a high level of detail. It certainly isn’t easy, but it’s easy to explain.

While such mirror world creation is “just” laying the foundation for the application of a much wider and broader set of immersive technologies, the people engaged in the legacy immersive technologies have almost no idea of what is going on in terms of superseding their own stuff with these new, indeed revolutionary offerings.

The most advanced and the most mature community for consumer legacy of immersive technologies is the one of the flight simulation by enthusiasts. The technologies from there are even used in high-value commercial set-ups as well demonstrated by such current news that IDSI demonstrates high-resolution Immersive Desktop at I/ITSEC conference [IDSI press release, April 9, 2012]: “Software content included a PC version of Battlefield Bad Company 2 as well as Lockheed Martin’s PREPAR3D flight simulator [based on the earlier Microsoft Flight Simulator product we should add].

Watch these two videos in order to get a little experience of the current state-of-the-art for flight simulation by enthusiasts:

PAKT Ketchikan International Airport (ORBX) – FSX HD [TheAviatorFSX YouTube channel, Feb 8, 2012]

Description: A challenging landing awaits the adventurous pilot of both commercial airliners and bush planes, with infamous crosswinds up to 90 knots which have been known to blow approaching planes out across Tongass Narrows in certain conditions. This airport is no exception, with a unique multi-level runway and taxiways sloping down to the aprons. The entire airport precinct is built using a single 3DS Max model and of course Russ has included unique tech such as animated ground staff, seaplanes, and hundreds of details too numerious to mention here. Destined to be a classic! A big Thank you to John Venema and Russell White for the wonderful scenery. Music: Thomas Newman – American Dream Flight – One Six Right OST

FSX: Orbx 1S2 Darrington Muni!!! [HD] [B767rules YouTube channel, Jan 8, 2012]

A video about the beautiful 1S2 Darrington Muni scenery by Orbx. It is in a spectacular location, with super FPS, better than any other Orbx airport that I have. There are lots of HD custom buildings at the airport and throughout the town, the water masking for the river is great and the coverage area is huge, comparable to that of one of their AU airports. The 1S2 scenery includes- -Ground imagery at 30/60cm per pixel -Beautifully modeled airport and town -FSX gmax poly runway and aprons with fx -Spectacular mountain setting -Includes a large coverage of photoreal area -Accurate watermasks for the rivers -Photos taken by Orbx staff for all buildings -Includes custom GA AI Traffic movements -Seamlessly blends into FTX NA PNW -Expertly seasonally color matched -Orbx TextureFlow optimised models For more info visit- http://fullterrain.com/product_us1S2.html

Next read the following wikipedia articles about the technology used by flight simulation enthusiasts:

  1. Immersive technology: “refers to technology that blurs the line between the physical world and digital or simulated world, thereby creating a sense of immersion.” (It has already been referenced before the above videos.)
  2. Amateur flight simulation: A general overview article. (It has already been referenced as “flight simulation by enthusiasts” because the “amateur” attribute is rather incorrect – as we will see below – as well as misleading).
  3. Microsoft Flight Simulator (FS or MSFS, the last version FSX): Microsoft released the first version (for IBM PC) in 1982 which was licensed from an already available product base from Bruce Artwick /subLOGIC Corporatiom and reached commercial maturity with version 3.1 coming from The Bruce Artwick Organization. …
  4. X-Plane (simulator): The first version was released in 1993 for the Macintosh. Its author, Austin Meyer had been a long time MSFS user but had become frustrated with the Microsoft product and decided to build his own one. Later it become multiplatform as the one man effort became the Laminar Research company. … Only the latest X-Plane v10 version, released just in December 2011 has real chances to overcome the overwhelming dominance of MSFS (more precisely the latest FSX).
  5. Lockheed Martin Prepar3D: Microsoft ceased the further development of MSFS in the beginning of 2009 but an earlier, “software technology platform” version of it, the so called ESP was licensed in November 2009 to Lockheed Martin which released it later under the name of  Prepar3D®. The latest 1.3 version was released on March 23, 2012 as well as a much more widely accessible and affordable ($49.95) academic licensing for it on March 26. At the same time the price for the Professional License version (released in September 2011) was decreased to an affordable $199. The Academic License means “Undergraduate and K12 student instruction”, “K-12 after school programs”, and “Individual student use, K-12 and undergraduate” eligibility but it “is not to be used, offered, sold or distributed through markets or channels for use as a personal/consumer entertainment product”. The latter restriction also applies to the Professional License with having eligibility in “Civil or law enforcement training”, “Private pilot use”, “Military training”, “Flight school instruction”, “Professional instruction”, “Air traffic control instruction”, and “Graduate student instruction”.  With such restrictions Prepar3D is a legally constrained albeit technologically fully compatible follow-up to the MSFS. (Note that a Developers version had been available for quite a while with a subscription fee of $9.95 per month, see the Prepar3D® License Comparison).
  6. Microsoft Flight (Update: In July 2012, Microsoft ceased development of the game permanently to re-align its “long-term goals and development plans.” The game is still available for download and play. See on Kotaku or much below.):
    Prepar3D license restricitions are definitely coming from legal agreements between Microsoft and Lockheed Martin (although none of the companies are speaking about that). The writing – however – is on the wall since February 29, 2012 when Microsoft released an absolutely new product for “personal/consumer entertainment” use, called “Microsoft Flight”. Moreover, unlike the enthusiast-centric MSFS, the new product focuses much more on the universal appeal of flight and aims to engage a much wider audience. Below I will include further comparison details between MSFS and Flight.
  7. Precision Manuals Development Group (PMDG): It is a commercial add-on aircraft developer for the MSFS series and a leading representative of the thriving ecosystem existing around MSFS. It was founded as early as 1997 and it isa global business with employees and contractors working in Canada, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Russia, South Africa and the United States” and “currently has employees and contractors located in the following US States: Utah, California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Washington.” Unfortunately in dealing with Microsoft PMDG “was surprised and disappointed to see that the developers of FLIGHT elected to bring in a bunch of people to see FLIGHT, while very noticeably keeping out many of the same folks who have supported MS and the genre for years. The message was made loudly and clearly that our input was not desired and that the strategic objectives of FLIGHT do not involve the community that companies like PMDG, Aerosoft and the like represent.” – as described in Some thoughts on Flight… [Jan 6, 2012].
    This made PMDG think about where could they go from there? Here is the statement from their founder/owner Captain Robert S. Randazzo:
    1. Well-first- I’m not overly concerned. As hardware advances- FSX is really just coming into its own on the average consumer’s hardware– so we intend to continue FSX development for the foreseeable future! There are a number of directions in which we can go- and PMDG has already been taking steps to sort out what platform our future products will feature.
    2. There has been some loose talk about PMDG and Xplane10– but I must tell you that while we are evaluating that product, and while we do have someone on staff helping to map out the process by which our products wind up in Xplane10- we are still some way out on that project line… From a developers standpoint Xplane10 certainly seems to be a good solid platform that will help our products to shine- but, like FSX it has some weaknesses and we need to evaluate whether it makes sense to allow XPlan10 at this time.”
  8. Next to the PDMG we should mention the fast expanding (globally), and (unsually) headquartered in Germany, Aerosoft (company information as not in wikipedia) as an even bigger force forming the future of MSFS legacy as being 20 years in the business of add-ons for that. Mathijs Kok who is responsible for the project portfolio there made the following statement recently: “For 2012 all our efforts are on FS2004, FSX and X-Plane 10. Next year could be different.” [Aerosoft Forums, March 1, 2012].
    In an earlier interview he said: “2012 is very much a transition year. We got loads of new simulators, X-Plane 10, MS FLIGHT, AeroflyFS and we are seriously looking at all of them.  We have also just completed a re-organization of Aerosoft so we can handle the changing market better. Note this is not a bad sign, in fact it means hiring more staff!  We are now more a ‘content’ producer. All we make should be usable in as many projects as possible.
    Soon you will see the first products that will have FS2004/FSX/Prepar3D/X-Plane installers. One thing that’s important this year is that many or our big projects are being overhauled and moved to X-Plane. Many Mega Airports will get new version as the airports have changed (new runways etc).  At the same time we will spend more time on the trains and bus simulators, As long as they are ‘serious’ we know they will sell very well.
    ” [airdailyX, Jan 15, 2012]
    Note: In addition to Flight Simulation, Aerosoft has train simulation offerings (from some others as well), a whole range of other simulations (mostly from others), and a department called AVIATECH for High-End graphic solutions for the professional simulaton. No wonder that on “Who works where” page of airdailyX not less than 38 people are listed as working for them (while only 10 for PMDG).
    See also Life after FS2004 for the serious simmer [Aerosoft Sim News, March 28, 2012] as a very good evaluation of the possibilities choices available – FS9, FSX, XPX, Flight or P3D.
  9. OrBX (company information as not in wikipedia) is the biggest of such ecosystem companies as on the same list not less than 51 people are listed for them. The company roots are just going back to 2005, and was only formally incorporated in 2007. Their success could be attibuted to a unique, FTX terrain regions technology “which combines the use of aerial photography to create custom landclass textures implemented using some key differentiators from the default FSX terrain system”. They have also “new ‘Flow’ technologies that add even more realism” (VehicleFlow, NatureFlow, ObjectFlow, PeopleFlow, TextureFlow, Audio, Aero, SnowFlow and StaticFlow). They are also the most focused one strategically as “Orbx continues to extend the capabilities of FSX and Prepar3D with technologies that add realism and immersion”.

Fall City Airport with Nature Flow (ORBX 1WA6) – FSX HD / i7 2600 @ 3.47ghz with GTX 580 [TheAviatorFSX YouTube channel, Sept 1, 2011]

Watch the grass move, trees sway and leaves fall at Fall City! Description: Nature Flow has been introduced for the first time in Flight Simulator X… You can see leaves falling from the trees …. When a strong wind blows by you can see the trees swaying… During the fall, you can see beautiful trees….. I enjoyed making this video so much…. OrBX was always the best but now has moved onto a greater step…. The developers have put in some great dynamic details in the scenery… Do check it out… Thanks to ORBX for such a beautiful scenery…. To check the product: http://fullterrain.com/product_us1WA6.html


This video features the amazing quality of Microsoft Flight Simulator X, As well as the amazing ORBX/FTX People flow, included in the ORBX YSCH Coffs Harbour scenery. People flow includes moving characters within FSX and strangely enough, did not affect my FPS at all. If you would like to check out people flow aswell as ORBX’s many other scenery products, including FREEWARE! check out the following link.

Fall City with Vehicle Flow (ORBX 1WA6) – FSX HD [TheAviatorFSX YouTube channel, Nov 23, 2011]

Hey guys, this is my second video on ORBX Fall City. ORBX recently upgraded the scenery from Version 1.0 to Version 1.1 and 1.2 which adds many more features like Vehicle Flow. It makes Fall City even more realistic and fun to fly. I made this video to show the Vehicle Flow added to Fall City. I hope you enjoy it. Special thanks to Sir John, the entire team of ORBX and the developer Jorge Amengol who developed the Vehicle Flow for the scenery. Please watch the video in 1080p (Recommended)

Then here is the some information about the most visited domains by the community of flight simulation enthusiasts. It is obvious from that:

  1. The community is at least 1/2 million people strong and steady.
  2. They are hobbyists and/or private pilots and/or semi- or retired aviation professionals.

The Most Visited Domains COMPOUND AFFINITIES in Recreational Aviation - Business-Defense Aviation - Simulation Games - Personal Aircraft -- 11-April-2012

The Most Visited Domains in Recreational Aviation - Business-Defense Aviation - Simulation Games - Personal Aircraft -- 11-April-2012

The Most Visited Domains DETAILED AFFINITIES in Recreational Aviation - Business-Defense Aviation - Simulation Games - Personal Aircraft -- 11-April-2012


Prepar3D Trailer [LockheedMartinVideos YouTube channel, Sept 21, 2011]

Training meets reality with Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D® simulation software. Private pilots, commercial organizations, militaries and academia rely on Prepar3D for quickly tailorable training. Visit http://www.prepar3d.com for more details.

Lockheed Martin Launches Academic Prepar3D® Simulation Software as a Learning Tool for Students [Lockheed Martin press release, March 26, 2012]

ORLANDO, Fla., March 26, 2012 – Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] released academic licensing of its Prepar3D® simulation software to immerse students in learning and problem solving. The special pricing of $49.95 makes simulation accessible to the academic community for engaging the next generations in science, math and social studies curricula.

Currently used for professional training, Prepar3D harnesses gaming technology for experiential learning. The software presents a realistic virtual world to support educational scenarios anywhere from underwater to suborbital space.

“Simulation makes learning tangible,” said Chester Kennedy, vice president of engineering in Lockheed Martin’s Global Training and Logistics business. “It is ideal for concepts that have complex relationships or to reinforce rote learning. Simulation immerses the learner in an experience to make the lesson more memorable and reduce the time it takes to master a new skill.”

In Prepar3D, students can see the effects of their decisions and experiment with challenges at different levels. It also allows students from around the world to collaborate to solve real-life problems. With a free software development kit that accompanies the program, instructors can create customized academic lessons incorporating features such as people, wildlife, buildings, vehicles and weather.

Prepar3D is now used by the Experimental Aircraft Association and National Flight Academy to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. Lockheed Martin donated copies of Prepar3D to these organizations in 2011 to integrate learning objectives with inspirational stories of flight to interest youth in technological careers.

The new academic software can be purchased for educational efforts at or below the undergraduate level at www.prepar3d.com.

Prepar3d test with 30cm ground textures (4096×4096) Part 1 [ALeclercqCreations YouTube Channel, Nov 14, 2011]

Free 30cm ground textures test on Prepar3d. (Forests and Rocks) Is not a photorealistic scenery. For more info, see this webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/aimecreations/30cm-project NB: Original video haven’t sttuter. Prepar3d is smoth with these heavy textures even in the bends where the computer is very sought. Bloom effects: ENBserie. FPS_Limiter. Video made with Fraps and Avidemux.

Prepar3d test with 30cm ground textures (4096×4096) part 2 [ALeclercqCreations YouTube Channel, Nov 15, 2011]

Test with a plane diagrammatically more complex. One can notice some sttuter especially in the bends, but nothing dramatic. Free 30cm ground textures test on Prepar3d. (Forests and Rocks) Is not a photorealistic scenery. For more info, see this webpage: https://sites.google.com/site/aimecreations/30cm-project Bloom effects: ENBserie. FPS_Limiter. Video made with Fraps and Avidemux.

Lockheed Martin Receives Industry Innovation Award From Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission [Lockheed Martin press release, Sept 16, 2011]

ORLANDO, Fla., September 16, 2011 —

Lockheed Martin’s [NYSE: LMT] Central Florida operations have been named among the 2011 recipients of the William C. Schwartz Industry Innovation Award by the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission.

The award honors companies for creating, developing and successfully implementing products, ideas and processes. The award cited two Lockheed Martin programs that are meeting urgent customer needs through affordability and innovation initiatives: Prepar3D simulation software and the HULC hydraulic-powered exoskeleton.

Out of the Screen – Prepar3D [LockheedMartinVideos YouTube channel, Sept 19, 2011]

Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D® simulation software transports you to an immersive environment that takes training to the next level. In Prepar3D, you can quickly create your own training scenarios anywhere in the virtual world, from under water to sub orbital space. Visit http://www.prepar3d.com for more details.

Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D® Software to Soar at National Flight Academy [Lockheed Martin press release, June 13, 2011]

ORLANDO, Fla., 06/13/2011 —

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) will provide its Prepar3D ® visual simulation software to power the National Flight Academy’s (NFA) immersiveaviation experience as part of the academy’s hands-on approach to teaching the principles of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to students.

“We believe in the mission of the National Flight Academy, which couples STEM curriculum with aviation to inspire youth about technological careers,” said Dale Bennett, president of Lockheed Martin’s Global Training and Logistics business. “With the call from our nation’s leadership – and that of our own corporation– to reinvigorate America’s innovative spirit, we feel it is a great opportunity to support an organization with such a vital cause.”

The NFA is designed to address the concerns of declining STEM skills and standards in our country by providing immersivehigh-tech adventures that combine classroom math and science fundamentals with hands-on aviation experiences. Prepar3D ® is visual simulation software that brings immersive game-based technology to training, experiential learning and decision and performance support for non-government, government and commercial organizations.

For NFA, Lockheed Martin will donate copies of Prepar3D ®, upgradable as new product versions are launched. In addition to providing immersivesoftware to facilitate the students’ learning, Lockheed Martin has donated more than $2 million to the NFA.

“The National Flight Academy’s mission is to educate youth on the fundamentals of STEM, and to do that it is critical we provide valuable learning experiences,” said Vice Admiral Gerald Hoewing, president of the National Flight Academy. “This project can’t happen without companies like Lockheed Martin.”

Prepar3D ® is based on the Microsoft ESP ™ Flight Simulator product line and is compatible with add-on software created for ESP ™. On the web site, http://www.prepar3d.com, users can get the software as well as download a software development kit to create add-ons such as aircraft, instruments, boats, buildings and other environmental features.

Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D™ Launches Nov. 1 [Lockheed Martin press release, Oct 20, 2010]

ORLANDO, Fla., 10/20/2010 —

Prepar3D ™, Lockheed Martin’s professional training and simulation software, will be available for purchase starting Nov. 1 on www.prepar3D.com for $499per licensed copy.

Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] created Prepar3D ™ (pronounced “prepared”), based on Microsoft® ESP™ technology, as a training application for military, educational, civil and aviation professionals. The Prepar3D ™ software lets individuals and organizations conduct realistic training by engaging users in immersiveenvironments. It can also be used for evaluating and preparing people for real world assignments and tasks.

“We believe this enhanced training capability will be a great asset not only for aviation professionals, but also for emergency responders, maritime forces and others,” said Chester Kennedy, vice president of engineering at Lockheed Martin Global Training and Logistics. “Delivering Prepar3D™ direct to users over the Web provides a real-time, low-cost response between identifying a mission need and implementing a solution.”

At www.prepar3D.com, users can buy the software and download a software development kit to create add-ons such as aircraft, instruments, boats, buildings and other environmental features. Additionally, Lockheed Martin is launching a Prepar3D™ Development Networkto which software and hardware developers can subscribe for a monthly fee. The developer subscription includes two development license copies of Prepar3D™, software tools, add-ons and support forum access to grow Prepar3D ™ capabilities.

Lockheed Martin began furthering development of the Microsoft® ESP™ COTS program in late 2009 and since then has added features including the Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) protocol, sensors, global underwater capabilities, multi-channel support for dome displays, and a rapid cockpit design capability. Future plans call for expanding training capabilities for military and civil applications for ground forces, seaport load crews and heavy equipment operators.

Visitors to the Interservice, Industry, Training, Education and Simulation Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando this November can see Prepar3D ™ on display in the Lockheed Martin booth.

Lockheed Martin Launches Prepar3d ™ to Provide Richer Training Experience for Warfighters [Lockheed Martin press release, May 17, 2010]

ORLANDO, Fla., 05/17/2010 —

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) has released its new Prepar3D ™ software that enables rapid creation of medium-fidelity simulations for training exercises.

The Prepar3D ™ (pronounced “prepared”) software interface gives organizations the ability to conduct more realistic and robust training exercises by adding platforms such as air and ground vehicles to training systems that run on Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS). DIS is an open standard for conducting real-time platform-level wargaming and is widely used by military organizations.

“The Prepar3D™ interface will enhance the ability of military services to provide realistic and integrated training experiences for warfighters before they deploy, so they can fight exactly as they’ve trained,” said Chester Kennedy, vice president of Engineering at Lockheed Martin’s Simulation, Training & Support business unit. “One example would be an aircraft flying in the Prepar3D ™ environment which can now be joined to a system such as Warfighter’s Simulation, which simulates large-scale training exercises, for a richer training experience. We can quickly create custom training solutions based on a customer’s needs.”

In late 2009, Lockheed Martin and Microsoft entered into an agreement that allows Lockheed Martin to further develop Microsoft® ESP™, which was originally designed for flight applications. Lockheed Martin will also modify Microsoft ESP™ to enable its use for ground environments to better train military forces and civil agency missions such as disaster preparedness. Changes under way include military scenarios and features to create custom training solutions, such as a weapons capability.

Visitors to the Interservice Training & Education Conference (ITEC) in London this week can see Prepar3D ™ on display in the Lockheed Martin booth.

Lockheed Martin-Microsoft Agreement to Bring Better Training to Warfighters [Lockheed Martin press release, Nov 11, 2009]

ORLANDO, Fla, 11/30/2009 —

Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) and Microsoft Corp. entered into an intellectual property licensing agreement that allows Lockheed Martin to further develop the Microsoft® ESP™ PC-based visual simulation software platform to better train warfighters for battle.

Microsoft ESP technology allows users to operate realistic vehicle models that incorporate real-world physics to enhance realism, such as in the interior and instrumentation of a Boeing 747-400 shown here.

The agreement provides Lockheed Martin with access to the ESP technology portfolio, enabling the company to build cost-effective simulation solutions for customized training for its worldwide customers. Lockheed Martin’s software development teams will extend the current capabilities of ESP to enable a whole new suite of innovative ESP-based solutions that will evolve beyond flight training to include ground and civil agency applications.

“The training needs of our military and civil government customers continue to expand,” said Chester Kennedy, vice president of Engineering at Lockheed Martin’s Simulation, Training & Support business unit. “Seeking out and developing new innovative solutions such as this one based on the proven Microsoft ESP technology allows Lockheed Martin to provide our customers with new and tailored training systems more quickly and cost efficiently.”

“Solutions built on Microsoft ESP can engage users in immersive experiences with very realistic environments—making them ideal tools for training, evaluating, and preparing personnel for optimal performance in the real world,” said Chris Cortez, general manager of Strategic Programs at Microsoft, and a retired Marine Corps major general. “ESP models the entire world and will allow Lockheed Martin’s developers to easily add their own content, objects, scenery, simulation functionality, and scenarios to create custom training solutions.”

The Microsoft ESP IP licensing agreement builds on the existing Microsoft/Lockheed Martin Strategic Allianceto bring meaningful information technology services and products to market and continue to fuel innovation. It is also an example of Microsoft’s broader efforts to collaborate with industry through IP licensing.

Microsoft ESP is a visual simulation software development platform that brings immersive games-based technology to training and decision support for commercial, government and education organizations.

A Bell 206B JetRanger police helicopter flying over an urban downtown is one example of how Microsoft ESP enables pilots to navigate through a wide variety of highly-realistic static and animated objects including ground and air vehicles, buildings, and other structures.

Visitors to the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation & Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando this week can see Lockheed Martin’s first ESP-based solution on display in booth 2049. The Pilatus PC-12 desktop trainer showcases the affordable, powerful training and mission rehearsal capabilities ESP will bring to Lockheed Martin’s customers.

Lockheed licenses Microsoft ‘visual simulation’ technology [TechFlash, Nov 30, 2009]

To answer the biggest question first, this is not the future of Microsoft’s consumer Flight Simulator product. Flight Sim’s fate remains uncertain following the company’s decision to disband the studio behind the long-running and beloved product.

However, it is an example of the core Flight Sim technology living on. Microsoft has reached a deal to license to Lockheed Martin its Microsoft ESP system, which the Redmond company derived from the Flight Simulator project two years ago with an eye toward offering a “visual simulation” platform — taking the immersive world originally created for Flight Sim and allowing it to be customized for specialized commercial applications.

Microsoft says it will also look to license the ESP technology to other companies to use and offer to their own customers, as Lockheed will be doing. But in deciding to offer the underlying intellectual property for use and development by other companies, Microsoft is signaling that it doesn’t plan to further develop ESP itself.

“This clearly was not going to be a core piece of our growth,” said David Kaefer, Microsoft’s general manager of intellectual property licensing, saying the decision was part of Microsoft’s broader re-evaluation of its business priorities in the midst of the economic downturn. “What we decided was that it was a lot better to take the investment, earn some money back but also enable our partners to take it forward and succeed.”

Under the licensing agreement, Microsoft says Lockheed is expected to further develop ESP to train warfighters in battle. At the same time, Lockheed’s software developers will also extend the technology beyond flight training for use as a general simulation tool by the military and other government agencies.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but in general such licensing agreements provide benefits to Microsoft when the people who license its technologies see success with the resulting products.

Microsoft Confirms Aces Closure [IGN PC, Jan 23, 2009]

Studio responsible for Flight Simulator shut down amidst layoffs.

Microsoft has confirmed the closure of Aces Game Studio, the internal development studio responsible for Microsoft Flight Simulator. Flight Simulator is one of the company’s oldest product lines, stretching back more than 20 years. The closure came amidst the company’s first major layoffs in its history, announced on Thursday. Approximately 5,000 Microsoft employees will be laid off; around 1,400 were cut immediately, with the remainder to but cut over the next 18 months.

In a statement, Kelda Rericha of Edelman, Microsoft’s public relations firm, said that the decision was made within Microsoft’s Internal Entertainment Business “to align our people against our highest priorities.”

The closure of Aces marks the shuttering of another major developer within Microsoft Game Studios. Since September of 2007, the company has shut down FASA Studio (Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge, MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries, and Shadowrun), announced the closure of Ensemble Studios (Age of Empires), and Carbonated Games (Hexic HD, Uno). In addition, Bungie, the studio responsible for Halo, left Microsoft Games Studios and became an independent studio, though Microsoft does maintain an ownership stake in it.
Does this mean the end of the Flight Simulator franchise? According to Rericha, “We are committed to the Flight Simulator franchise which has proven to be a successful PC based game for the last 27 years. You should expect us to continue to invest in enabling great LIVE experiences on Windows, including flying games, but we have nothing specific to announce at this time.”

Microsoft ESP models all types of terrain using accurate DEM and vector data [from MS, Oct. 29, 2008]

What Microsoft planned before closing Fligh Simulator and the associated ESP:

Microsoft ESP Showcases the Future of Immersive Simulation Experiences [Microsoft press release, Dec 2, 2008]
Government, industry and academic professionals attending Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) 2008 get an early look at future capabilities and new visual simulation solutions built on Microsoft ESP.
ORLANDO, Fla. — Dec. 2, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today unveiled for the first time new capabilities of the next version of the Microsoft ESP visual simulation software development platform at I/ITSEC 2008. Show attendees can preview new ground-vehicle operations capabilities and multi-channel display support that will be available in ESP version 2.0. For a firsthand experience of the current version of Microsoft ESP, a range of innovative simulation solutions designed to help government and military organizations improve operational functionality, enhance mission-critical skills and mitigate risks will be displayed.
Since the debut of Microsoft ESP earlier this year, significant progress has been made working with partners and the academic research community to bring the power of immersive simulation to the desktops of defense and civilian agencies for mission rehearsal, interactive training and decision support. Growing interest in Microsoft ESP can be attributed to the cost advantages and productivity gains realized from creating mission-critical visual simulation solutions on a common software development platform that supports Windows-based commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and software.
“Government and military organizations are looking to augment traditional readiness programs with affordable, powerful and portable simulation solutions,” said David Boker, senior director of business development for ACES Studio at Microsoft. “Microsoft ESP transforms how people learn and organizations plan and prepare by enabling partners to rapidly add scenarios, change out variables and integrate different technologies into their synthetic environments.”
In the next version of Microsoft ESP new capability for ground-vehicle operations will extend the immersive experiences of mission rehearsal and skills training from warfighters in the air to warfighters on the ground. Support for multi-channel displays will expand the view from a single-cockpit screen view to a full panoramic visual environment, making simulations built on Microsoft ESP suited for first-responder training, ground transportation training, route familiarization, mission rehearsal, and rescue and recovery operations. Working closely with partners to define and prioritize feature sets, Microsoft will be disclosing additional capabilities over the course of the software development cycle of ESP version 2.0.
Microsoft ESP makes it easy and cost-effective for government, industry and academic professionals to apply immersive games technologies to learning opportunities, workforce readiness, decision-making and operational excellence. Solutions built with Microsoft ESP’s simulation engine, tools, application programming interface (API) and synthetic world content can be used over and over again to create custom high-fidelity, dynamic, immersive experiences. Partners using ESP can augment existing capabilities, build and deploy new solutions, and integrate them with existing simulations.
“The combination of Northrop Grumman’s mission-critical experience with Microsoft ESP’s innovation is enabling the next generation of simulation solutions to be the most advanced ever seen for planning, rehearsing, training and debriefing military missions,” said Barry Rhine, sector vice president and general manager of the Command and Control Systems Division of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. “New simulation solutions that are emerging allow for better execution, which in turn helps create a more effective military and increases warfighter safety.”
Microsoft ESP simulation solutions at I/ITSEC 2008 include the following:
  • The Northrop Grumman simulator demonstrating virtual landing of an F-18 Hornet on the CVN-21 “carrier of the future” incorporating Microsoft ESP, Virtual Earth and Microsoft Surface with Northrop Grumman’s Command and Control Mission Rehearsal (C2MR)
  • A Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle simulator showcasing Microsoft ESP version 2.0’s forthcoming ground-vehicle operations capability
  • A helicopter flight simulator revealing Microsoft ESP’s version 2.0 multi-channel display capabilities across three large screens
  • The F-16 cockpit trainer from Flight-Dynamix demonstrating the integration of Microsoft ESP version 1.0 into an existing custom hardware simulation solution
  • A demonstration produced by the School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton, United Kingdom, made using Microsoft ESP and Windows HPC Server 2008, showing a helicopter landing on a moving ship. A white paper, “Real-Time Computational Fluid Dynamics for Flight Simulation,” describing the process used by the scientists has been published by the I/ITSEC conference.
    “It is important to be able to apply a variety of techniques in order to accurately solve challenging problems such as a helicopter interacting with a ship air wake,” said Dr. Kenji Takeda, senior lecturer in the School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton. “Improvements in price/performance of technologies such as Microsoft ESP and Windows HPC Server 2008 are helping to make such breakthroughs possible.”
    In response to partner requests, the Microsoft ESP group has enhanced marketing efforts on a number of fronts, including the January 2009 availability of a single-client license at $899 (U.S.) and a single software development kit (SDK) at $99 (U.S.); the announcement of a worldwide Microsoft ESP Partner Program to provide increased technical and marketing opportunities; and an ESP Developer Center on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) now available athttp://msdn.com/ESP.
    I/ITSEC show attendees can experience Microsoft ESP by visiting Booth 3718.
    More information about Microsoft ESP is available at http://www.microsoft.com/esp. Developers can access specific information from the Microsoft ESP Developer Center Web page athttp://msdn.com/ESP.

Update: Microsoft Reportedly Shuts Down Vancouver-Based Studio [UPDATE: Projects Cancelled]

… Microsoft has informed Kotaku that they have not shut down the studio but it has ended development on flight simulator Microsoft Flight and Project Columbia, a Kinect interactive TV project designed for children.

Although Microsoft would not comment on how many people were laid off, they say Microsoft Game Studios in Vancouver has “more projects and development in the pipeline.”

Here’s their official statement:

Microsoft Studios is always evaluating its portfolio of products to determine what is best for gamers, families and the company, and this decision was the result of the natural ebb and flow of our portfolio management. Many factors were considered in the difficult decision to stop development on “Microsoft Flight” and “Project Columbia,” but we feel it will help us better align with our long-term goals and development plans. For “Microsoft Flight,” we will continue to support the community that has embraced the title and the game will still be available to download for free at http://www.microsoft.com/games/flight/.

A tipster contacted Kotaku to share the news, which was reported by a Facebook page dedicated to innovation in Vancouver and confirmed by several former Microsoft Game Studios Vancouver employees on Twitter. According to the folks at Facebook group Can We Do It Here, “the entire studio at Microsoft Games Studios on 840 Cambie has been laid off. 35 people in total.”


We know there are a number of questions out there in the community about the discontinuation of development for Microsoft Flight. We wanted to make to be sure to clarify a few things. While we will not be continuing active development, we are committed to keeping Flight available for our community to enjoy. All the content you have paid for is still valid, and the content that is available for sale will continue to be available onhttp://www.microsoft.com/games/flight/ If any further information becomes available for us to share, we will do so.  If you do have questions about errors you run into or have gameplay questions;
1. First, check out the following support links; your question may be answered in one of them.
    2. Ask the Flight community. We monitor community channels and try to respond there when possible. Other users may also be able to answer your question as well.
    3. If neither of the above methods helps you find an answer, email us at Tell MS Flight.
    Please note: The support alias offers English-language support only, and forMicrosoft Flight only (for assistance with FSX and earlier entries in the Flight Simulator franchise, please visit http://support.microsoft.com).

    WE HOPE YOU ENJOY MICROSOFT FLIGHT! [news update on Microsoft Flight site, Feb 28, 2012]

    We’re proud to open the hangar doors and present the future of flying on your PC. Whether you’re a complete newcomer to aviation or an experienced PC pilot, we believe you’ll enjoy flying with us.

    The release of Flight represents the culmination of three years of hard work and experimentation as we worked to reimagine the 30-year-old Flight Simulator franchise, push forward the evolution of the PC flying experience, and bring the thrill and wonder of flight to whole new audiences.

    There’s a lot to do in Flight’s version of Hawaii, from basic flight instruction to hunts for hidden Aerocaches, from experimenting with different aircraft to showing off your skills in aerobatics challenges, from ferrying passengers and cargo around the islands to advancing your career as a pilot. We hope you’ll have fun exploring the environment we’ve built.

    We’ve only scratched the surface of how we can deliver on our vision. There are a lot of opportunities on the horizon to continue to evolve the experience, and the team is already hard at work designing ways to fulfill the promise those opportunities represent. We’re excited about continuing to provide new and interesting ways to fly.

    The future is bright. We hope you’ll enjoy what we’ve made so far and can’t wait to show you what we’re working on next.

    See you in the sky!

    Joshua Howard

    Executive Producer, Microsoft Flight

    Microsoft Flight Release Trailer [MSFlightOfficial YouTube channel copy of the Microsoft Flight Announce Trailer of March 5, 2012, Feb 26, 2012]

    In “Microsoft Flight,” players view the world from above in a visually stunning and realistic representation of the earth, complete with region-specific weather patterns, foliage, terrain and landmarks. Players can choose to take the helm using highly rendered, accurate cockpits and authentic piloting procedures, or simply use their mouse and keyboard to control the plane in an exterior view. More experienced players can tailor the flight controls to match their skill level, making “Microsoft Flight” easy for beginners while still challenging for the most accomplished PC pilots. DOWNLOAD AND PLAY FREE NOW: microsoftflight.com ! PREMIUM CONTENT (a variety of scenery, aircraft and livery downloads) CAN BE PURCHASED: in-game or on the microsoftflight.com/marketplace/!

    ICON A5 to Be Feature Aircraft in Microsoft Flight [ICON Aircraft press release, Jan 4, 2012]

    ICON Aircraft announces a new collaboration with Microsoft. Microsoft has chosen the ICON A5 amphibious Light Sport Aircraft to be the featured aircraft in the upcoming launch of the Microsoft Flight PC game. The starter pack will be available to download for free this spring. It features the A5 as the default aircraft and includes the Big Island of Hawaii.

    “ICON and Microsoft Flight share the common goal of making the fun of flying accessible to everyone who has ever dreamed about it. ICON does this by fusing world-class product design with the very best engineering, and Microsoft does it by combining the excitement of a great gaming experience with the authenticity of a top-notch flight simulator,” said ICON Aircraft CEO and founder Kirk Hawkins. “We’re excited to have such a central role in Microsoft’s highly anticipated launch of Flight.”

    Developed by Microsoft Studios, Microsoft Flight emphasizes the thrill and wonder of aviation and requires no past experience or special hardware, making it accessible for beginners. At the same time, realistic flight physics, weather patterns, cockpits, and graphics ensure that Microsoft Flight will also challenge experienced PC pilots.

    “‘Microsoft is excited to work with ICON to provide the opportunity to experience the revolutionary ICON A5 before it’s available anywhere else,” said Joshua Howard, executive producer of Microsoft Flight. “The excitement that the A5 is generating in the aviation community makes the A5 the perfect aircraft to bring the joy of aviation to the masses via Microsoft Flight.”

    Microsoft Flight will be available to play at the Consumer Electronics Show, which starts on January 10. The game is available through closed beta at:

    ICON Aircraft is a consumer sport plane manufacturer founded in response to the new sport flying category created by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2004. ICON’s first plane is the A5, an amphibious sport aircraft that fuses outstanding aeronautical engineering with world-class product design. It has won some of the world’s most prestigious design awards and has inspired a global following. The company has received more than 600 order deposits and is scheduled to start production of the A5 at the end of 2012. ICON Aircraft’s facilities are in Southern California, a hotbed for automotive design and aerospace engineering.

    Microsoft Flight Behind the Scenes [MSFlightOfficial YouTube channel copy of the Microsoft Making Of Microsoft Flight video of Feb 9, 2012, Feb 4, 2012]

    Behind the scenes look at Microsoft Flight, including aircraft and game development.

    INTERVIEW WITH JOSHUA HOWARD [news update on Microsoft Flight site, March 2, 2012]

    What about Flight and the team interested or excited you?
    I was initially skeptical about joining this team, having never been a flight simulator fan. But when the team said, “No, no, no: This is about taking the magic of flight and trying to deliver it to a whole new group of people,” that got me excited. I’m here because we have this amazing experience – what it is to fly – that we can use software to deliver, and I’m an old-school believer in using software to empower people and bring them experiences they could never have elsewhere. I’d spent most of my career building fun for humans — that is, games for people who wouldn’t normally call themselves gamers — and the idea of bringing the magic of flight to millions and millions of more people than ever before was very exciting. …

    What was it like joining a team that includes people who have been making airplanes for Microsoft for decades?
    The subject matter expertise in this team is just astounding. Many of the people on theMicrosoft Flight team have a similar back story – they have had two parts of their lives: their professional lives which have been about software, and their hobby which has been all things aviation. At some point they had the chance to turn their hobby into their day job. This means that for this team, this product is much more than a job. …

    The team has been really quiet about what they’ve been doing during the development process. Why the low profile?
    We set out to do something that’s never been done before. That’s hard.
    We had to wander around a bit, to experiment. And any time you’re experimenting, you’re going to have some false starts, you’re going to have to back up a bit and try a new path. You can’t tell everybody, “We’re just days away, trust me,” because you’re going to wander until the moment that you realize you’re there, and you don’t really know how long it’s going to take. That moment you know you are there is defined by building an experience that captures the vision the team had. And it took us a while to do that.

    FSX vs. MS Flight – The comparison [HD] [TakeoffWithUs YouTube channel, March 14, 2012]

    Download Icon A5 FSX: http://simviation.com/1/download-file?file=IconA5_1_0.zip&fileId=38498 Comment what do you think. Is the MS Flight better or FSX? Or even an other flight simulator? And don’t forget to subscribe.

    • FSX was designed as a simulator, MS Flight is and always will be an arcade game..with payware planes/scenery/textures FSX becomes more realistic. but if you want a true flightsim turn over to X-Plane10. X-Plane is even being used in real-life simulators around the world. FS9/10 is not MSFlight will never and i repeat NEVER!!! be a simulator….. case closed!!spookyrambo 1 week ago
    • yes you are right!!TakeoffWithUs in reply to spookyrambo (Show the comment) 1 week ago

    – The flight simulator X-Plane is from a small software company called Laminar Research and has been evolved since 1993, released first fo Macintosh. Their other popular program is a virtual reality combat simulator Giant Fighting Robots (for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, Plam Pre and Android) which “grew out of Laminar’s experience in creating the mobile versions of the X-Plane simulator, but is itself not related to flight simulation at all (though the physics are pretty realistic!)”. There is also X-Planner, “a tool for keeping real-world pilots safe by allowing them to easily perform pre-flight preparations and planning”, as well Jet Skier and Running with the Bulls.
    X-Plane 10 – Flight Simulator Trailer 2012 [oprealgamingOfficial YouTube channel, Jan 17, 2012]

    http://gaming.operationreality.org A beautiful new X-Plane 10 trailer put together by Paul Chepikian and the team over at http://www.x-plane.com to promote the release of the latest version of X-Plane 10 by Laminar Research. A demo of the flight sim is available on their site: http://www.x-plane.com/downloads/x-plane_10_demo. Twitter: http://twitter.com/opreal Facebook: http://facebook.com/oprealgaming.official G+: https://plus.google.com/116170063143225363454

    Microsoft Flight vs. MSFX vs. X-Plane 10 Comparison Video: Microsoft Flight till [0:50] – FSX till [1:47] – X-Plane 10 after that

    Microsoft Flight till [0:50] – FSX till [1:47] – X-Plane 10 after that. From: http://www.x-plane.com/news/(so MIGHT BE a somewhat biased comparison): Want to compare X-Plane 10 to the competition? The YouTube video below shows a flight over Hawaii in Microsoft Flight, followed by Microsoft Flight Simulator X, followed by X-Plane 10. All three simulators are using comparable graphics settings, with no add-ons.

    X-Plane 10 : State of the Union [Xplane10’s Blog, March 6, 2012]
    Interview Ben Supnik, Graphics Developer X-Plane 10 [Aerosoft Sim News, March 21, 2012]
    Good Questions [Ben Supnik, March 14, 2012]: “… The conference was attended by a number of MSFS third party developers, a few X-Plane third party developers, as well as Austin, myself, and Aerosoft management. So the audience was mostly technical people (developers) and mostly MSFS, not X-Plane developers. The sessions covered two basic areas: Boot-camp … New features … For me, the most useful aspect of the sessions was the interactive aspect. … The experience also has changed my view on the scenery tools. … For the upcoming US developer’s conference (in Columbia in April) the sign-ups so far look like a more mixed group, with some very experienced X-Plane people and some totally new developers coming over from the MSFS world. …
    BTS: Interview with Austin Meyer at Aerosoft Dev meeting (1/2) [mcphatstudios YouTube channel, Mar 18, 2012]

    Austin Meyer (Laminar Research), one of the creators of X-Plane talks about flying in the United States, building his own aircraft, the Lancair Evolution, being a Microsoft Flight Simulator user (back in the days) and why X-Plane is so different from other Flight Simulators.

    BTS: Interview with Austin Meyer at Aerosoft Dev meeting (2/2) [mcphatstudios on Mar 31, 2012]

    In part II he talks about the future of X-Plane 10, what is planned (“I never plan ahead for more than 2 months”), the ultimate goal, MS Flight, the diminish of the FS franchise, how that affects X-Plane, but also about the importance of 3rd party developers and how he has been looking forward to ‘this meeting’ for TWENTY years.

    XP Reviews : Don’t mention the war! [flightime56 on Xplane 10’s [User] Blog, March 26, 2012]

    There is a war going on, a subtle war but a fight to death one at that, and it is who can win the “Lost Generation” of Ex-MSFS Simmers
    Now most MSFS Simmers would say “we don’t care, we like what we have anyway and don’t need you”, but the it is not their hearts that is the aim of all this but their wallets.
    And this whole saga is twisting and turning like a cornered snake in the fact that what was written in stone only months ago could now be “well we will even now chip a little off the block here and here”.
    Flight said, and still do “we do our own thing here now and don’t need the large universe of MSFS developers to develop for Flight”, Fine in that and that is loud and clear, “Steve Balimar Ballmer has no doubt screamed (and sweated) at the flight development team “Why are we giving all the profits away to them!”
    Problem is Mr Balimar Ballmer is that “Them” built MSFS into the huge product machine it is today.
    The MSFS developers where were initially attracted to Prepar3d as it was the perfect fit as Lockheed’s product can be easily adjusted for MSFS aircraft and scenery, the only person looking in another area was Mathijs Kok of Aerosoft, he still has a foot in the door with Prepar3d but also looked at the up-coming X-Plane10 product from Laminar Research and bravely decided to support it. It was first and foremost a business decision, but a big call to change to a completely different platform – and since then he has supported the simulator 100%.
    The issue with Prepar3d was its entrance cost, At nearly $500 compared to X-Plane’s Eur69.95 so when Flight declared that it was not going to move on the developer issue then other developers including the MSFS bright star PMDG also decided to develop X-Plane products.
    This is of course all mostly early in the year old news, but then Aerosoft ran the now called “Mallorca Conference” in which the MSFS developers got together with Laminar to see the future of the X-Plane10 product and have a say on what they thought of X-Plane and what they liked and what they didn’t.

    I noted that the conference was probably the most important in Laminar Research’s career, the results were however even more astounding than you could have ever imagined.
    The reason was that Laminar went to Spain to was do one thing and came back and did another. It went to sell X-Plane10 to the MSFS community. It came back home with a list of “yes we are interested but if you want us then we will need this or this”.
    More astounding is that Laminar said “okay we will see what we can do”, and then the list slowly filtered out.
    We knew that the crucial items that was the priority was to get the plausible scenery “city elements” out into the simulator and that was known before Mallorca, the interesting part wasthat the MSFS developers wanted better tools to accelerate the process of add-on elements and to help in the quicker creation of custom scenery – including airports and their infrastructure.
    This really would not be a surprise as Laminar need as much product out there as soon as possible to make the simulator a viable product and for the MSFS developers to start the business of making money out of the platform.
    In this area you have to understand that X-Plane is not like other simulators, the fundamental underlying structure is not like anything else, not MSFS or Flight or even a “shoot them up” game – and it is this feature that gives X-Plane a bigger advantage over any other simulator. If you look carefully a the Flight-MSFX_XP comparison video it will show you how different X-Plane10 really is from the others.

    On both the MSFS products they both clearly show the photographic base with buildings on top view, fine higher up but with squashed cars and everything else from any other angle. Flight is the worst at this level and MSFS is still very good with buildings and with trees well situated.
    X-Plane looks and feels very different, but it does look 3d and very animated, those empty green spaces are just waiting to be filled in and at this point it only has the small selection of default buildings to fill out the view.
    However take the add-on MSFS scenery and the huge range of coming default scenery and you will have something bordering on the spectacular. That is X-Plane10′s promise and depth and to a developer that green real estate it is worth money.
    The other items that trickled out of Mallorca all point towards the same direction and issues. 64bit was a surprise and that came out from nowhere, X-Plane devotees expected that one coming in a few years time, now it is suddenly coming in a beta form in only a few months (or even weeks).
    The other item now coming is seasonal textures, only as an add-on and only in a local environment right now and not as a Global Default, don’t ask when but it is a big job to convert all those tiles, but regional seasons will be possible soon – That was another item that was constantly put on the Laminar “We will get around to that” list.
    Texture size limit bumped up to 4096 x 4096 max as well to help the boat along, so with all this suddenly dropping into your lap – then as a scenery designer he must be wondering now what simulator he is really working on.
    Overall Laminar Research are wanting to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible and were probably more surprised than us by what was presented to them at Mallorca.
    Then another bombshell….
    “Prepar3D for professional use is now offered at $199.00,  for students with hands-on educational experiences at $49.95″…
    Feeling the heat – Of course, only a few months ago the official word was “No, as Prepar3D is for professional use, we have no reasons to go into a consumer market” was Lockheed’s mantra…well take two.
    The next date to put in the event calender is for the Orbx major announcement for April, no doubt it will want to put forward Prepar3D as THE platform of choice….that heat must have been getting very hot.
    So if you were an MSFS developer then what would you do now, drop tools and just go back to the MSFS community and carry on the as in the past in the better FSX/Prepar3D platform and note that X-Plane is too hard to re-engineer – that would clearly make the most sense.
    But would it?
    Remember money is business, and to make money you have to sell product, lots of it.
    If you go back to Prepar3D then all the product you have is already sold and so you just move it from one folder through a Prepar3D installer to the next…no money in that….Aircraft too.
    $199.00 is still a very high price to pay for a hobby, If you’re a student then it is bargain – so how many 50 -60 year old’s will now go back to school!
    No doubt the area X-Plane can-not compete on one level and that is cities, the default scenery is fine but the cities are simply non-existent, fly to London and it is not there, New York…nothing, Sydney is a joke really.
    And this is the current achilles-heel for the platformbecause simply there has been no past professional add-on support to create the scenery system, but that does not mean that developers should not discount X-Plane and why they won’t.
    Money and features – The big carrot is that the new underlying OSM world gives developers a smorgisboard of  ideas to create great product and animated product. If they use the OSM network to their benefit then X-Plane10 cities will be a work of art – the other benefit is HDR.
    HDR is a feature that is yet really stillborn but holds the greatest promise for X-Plane10, It hasn’t had much refining yet (If any at all) and it is still very frame rate hungry, but when it works it is gobsmackingly beautiful in its execution, any scenery created correctly in HDR will be overwhelmingly good.
    All this scenery with HDR/OSM 3d cities will suddenly leave any other simulator in the dust for quality, it won’t happen overnight but it will come quicker that you realise.
    Aircraft…and non yet there either, because most new aircraft have to be created or converted for X-Plane10′s use and that takes time -and so we are all sitting in that strange twilight zone of nothing at the moment.
    but once they do start flowing it will be a trickle turning into a full flow of products, same with airports as all are being created but still not on your desktop yet.
    Another carrot is you, the X-Plane user – as most MSFS product is already sold and you are a market waiting to be developed and if you get it right then you can not have just only the MSFS market but you can add the X-Plane users to your customer base as well, in fact you are worth far more than the MSFS market as you are ripe for the plucking for products that can be repackaged and resold.
    We see ourselves as a minority group but there is over 140.000 users in X-Plane with a core of 25.000 and that is growing by 20% every year, in anyone’s guess that is a lot of money to be made.
    The odd thing is that it is very hard to estimate the total users of MSFS as they are not as centralized as X-Plane users are, you usually find there is 20,000 here but it is mostly 4,000 there.
    Other overall issues are that X-Plane is also multi-platform, 10 years ago the Windows box ruled every domain, but today Apple are selling to the converted, they will never out-sell a windows computer but the numbers still add up and PrePar3D is Windows only.
    Another plus for developers is Laminar Research itself. If you want a feature then it will be pushed through in an update, Laminar for the first time is hungry and wanting to please the developers as it knows its future depends on their involvement – If the two can work together then X-Plane10′s future will be assured and the developments and products will create a simulated world like no other, the promise is there and the money is too, but right now it really could go either way.
    If you were a developer with a business to run what would you do?
    • The biggest reason is that “Yes it is difficult to convert to X-Plane”, but it has the most new features (and exciting current ones) for a long term business model and is constantly innovative with new ideas.
    • X-Plane isn’t going to go and do a “Flight”, and Lockheed could turnoff the tap in a few years if the low income business model isn’t living up to corporate costs.
    • You can work more closely with Laminar to build X-Plane into a genuinely large platform and the underlying flight model is certainly more realistic.
    • If the platform grows and performs there will be more money to be made out of X-Plane by creating a larger merged community.
    • X-Plane’s current situation is that the developers created (mostly scenery) product for MSFS and not for X-Plane, in every other area X-Plane is as good or even better than most simulators, it is just missing that vital component.
    • X-Plane10 was created to fix most of the scenery issues and will mostly succeed, but it still can’t beat the shear numbers of people creating products and add-ons for a platform….so to winning the developers hearts is the key to future success for Laminar Research and Mallorca was ground zero for that, win them and you win, win.
    In the end we will all settle down in our own little simulated worlds just like it was a few years ago after all this swapping around of chairs for chairs, If anything X-Plane10 was certainly timely in its release…and maybe Austin will have the last laugh after all.

    A Whole New World for Technology in Education [Lockheed Martin feature article, March 26, 2012]

    Lockheed Martin launches Prepar3D® simulation software as an immersive educational tool for students at the undergraduate level and below.

    Offering a virtual world simulation that spans from deep underwater all the way to suborbital space, Lockheed Martin Prepar3D® software is now available as a hands-on learning tool for students. The software harnesses the power of gaming technology for an educational purpose.

    “Our Prepar3D software presents a virtual world for experiential learning, transporting students to realistic settings where they can see the effects of their decisions,” says Martile Allen, Lockheed Martin Prepar3D program manager.

    “Imagine students applying geometry to figure out the shortest flight plans, or learning about marine life at the Great Barrier Reef. These types of lessons can come to life through virtual worlds,” adds Allen.

    In addition to offering a platform to teach science, technology, engineering and math, Prepar3D allows students to work together to solve challenges and build their communication and teamwork skills.

    Currently, the National Flight Academy uses Prepar3D as part of its hands-on programs to link learning standards and aviation games in the classroom, at community venues and in an in-residence program aboard the NFA Ambition, a new land-based simulated training aircraft carrier.

    “Our nation is facing a shortage of skilled STEM professionals,” says David Shikada, the National Flight Academy’s chief marketing officer. “Consider that the U.S. is ranked 35th in math education and 29th in science education worldwide. Stats also show that the U.S. has made no significant performance gains in the last four years in science.”

    “To reinvigorate the American spirit of innovation and build a better future for next generations, we must inspire young people to choose STEM disciplines so we can build a workforce that can bring new ideas and new products to the global marketplace,” Shikada says.

    Since 2009, the National Flight Academy has brought Aviation Classroom Experience (ACE) labs to five schools in Florida. The program uses virtual game play and simulation to teach students aerodynamics, propulsion, navigation, communications, flight physiology and meteorology.

    A typical ACE installation consists of a series of individual computer workstations, three Prepar3D flight simulators and an air traffic control station.

    “It’s amazing seeing these kids’ faces light up when they work with their peers on a challenge. What’s even better is seeing the light bulbs go on when they understand a math or science topic that they were having difficulty mastering,” says Shikada.

    Lockheed Martin Prepar3D can be used for educational curricula, after school programs, summer camps and at home. The software will be showcased during the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., April 28 and 29.

    In 2010, Lockheed Martin launched Prepar3D for immersive mission rehearsal and procedures training by professionals and military personnel. The new academic version is now available at www.prepar3d.com for student instruction at and below the undergraduate level.

    Lockheed Martin Experience [Lockheed Martin feature article, March 23, 2012]

    Lockheed Martin is returning to the 2012 USA Science & Engineering Festival as the presenting host and a major exhibitor. The timing is auspicious as we celebrate our 100th anniversary this year, marking a century since our pioneering founders – Glenn L. Martin and Malcolm and Allan Loughead – first incorporated their aircraft companies. Lockheed Martin’s exhibits will explore the corporation’s legacy of innovation, collaboration, and the evolution of advanced technology and exploration through interactive and hands-on experiences. Examples of the interactive presentations from Lockheed Martin that will be at the 2012 Festival include the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, Flight Simulators, and the Robot Raceway. These, and others which will be on display at the Festival, are designed to inspire the future engineers and technologists who may someday develop solutions that make a profound difference in our world.

    [Note that the simulators are in the normal font sizes within the list given below !]

    Science Festival Demostration
    Exhibit Description
    F-22 Cockpit The F-22 Cockpit Demonstrator is an immersive fighter jet simulator. Attendees can fly the airplane and land safely at an airport to experience the feeling of being a fighter jet pilot inside a full-working cockpit. Engineers will discuss the opportunities for future pilots, as well as the engineering aspects behing the simulation.
    This exhibit will fully immerse visitors with the F-35 fighter jet in a virtual environment. The participants will wear a head-mounted display and will interact as virtual maintainer inside the F-35 weapon bay.
    T-50 Trainer The T-50 Cockpit Demonstrator is an immersive fighter jet simulator. It contains a full-working cockpit for each individual to experience the feeling of training like a fighter jet pilot. The simulation allows the individual to perform an afterburner take-off, fly the airplane, and land safely at an airport. Engineers will discuss the opportunities for future pilots, as well as the engineering aspects behing the simulation.
    Environmental Booth
    This exhibit will highlight several different models, displays, and Lockheed Martin technologies related to monitoring and understanding the environment, particularly as they relate to energy efforts. Highlights include:
    · The WindTracer model from Lockheed Martin’s Energy Solutions Center, along with simple wind turbine models.
    · The Multitouch Executive Dashboard – Energy (MED-E), which can visualize many different types of grid data — from power transmission lines to generation sources and the natural gas infrastructure of the US and European Union. It will be used as a centerpiece to discuss how real-time monitoring is important to alternative energy technologies.
    · A tornado display model built by a Lockheed Martin engineer, and a display which details how tornados work.
    Mondo Spider vs. Titanoboa
    From the same team that brought us the Mondo Spider at the Festival in 2010, Titanoboa is a 50 ft mechanical snake powered by solar panels. Look for these two exhibits outside the convention center.
    Antarctica 2041 – Renewable Energy in Extreme Environments
    An exhibition of renewable energy equipment that was tested in Antarctica, as well as video footage from the icy frontier.
    Solar Decathlon
    Hampton University will display its efforts to produce a sustainable living and universal design house for the 2013 Solar Decathlon.
    The OmniGlobe is an eye-catching and enlightening display that projects a wide range of geographic imagery, from flood zones and oceanic currents to CO2 levels.
    Nanotechnology Exhibit
    The Nanotechnology Tube (nanotube) canopy will allow Festival-goers to explore a range of applications for nanotechnology.
    The BioBus pulls in electricity from the solar panels on the roof and the wind turbine mounted on the bumper, runs its engine on waste veggie oil collected from restaurant fryer grease, and provides heat with pellets made from compressed sawdust. It powers a mobile microscope research lab where more than 10,000 students every year explore bugs, bark, cells, particles, and more at up to 30,000 X magnification.
    Electromagnetic Devices
    Three radioactive and magnetic devices will be on display: an electrophorus, an electroscope, and a kelvin generator. The devices provide a clear way to communicate the fundamentals of physics.
    Fun Exhibits LLC
    This interactive public artwork exhibit requires people to work together through shared-control interfaces. This fosters a sense of community as strangers engage each other in cooperative play. These exhibits stimulate enthusiasm for science by activating the most powerful motivator for learning: natural human curiosity. This booth includes: a ferrofluid magnetoscope, an exhibition on interactive electrolysis and the hydrogen economy, and a pedal-powered bubble dance party.
    Museum of Interesting Things
    The Museum of Interesting Things is a traveling interactive demonstration/exhibition of antiques and inventions inspiring innovation and creativity – learning from the past to create an inventive future. They will bring the following exhibitions…
    · Eureka! The Invention Show: Explores the industrial revolution and mechanical era as it relates to green energy and alternative power, with interactive demonstrations of such items as the steam engine, Thomas Edison cylinder phonograph, windup toys and mechanical inventions.
    · Can you hear me now? The Communications Show: Traces the evolution of inventions involving communication, including telegraphs, box wooden telephones, teletypes, wire recorders, crystal radios, pigeon post, cell phones and computers.
    FIRST Robotics
    FIRST Robotics Competition robots will take to the court, free throwing basketballs in a scaled-down Rebound Rumble challenge while FIRST Lego® League teams will compete in the Food Factor Challenge. Interact with the Lockheed Martin sponsored teams that engineered the robots and find out what it takes to build a functioning robot from scratch, and check out the simulcast of the FIRST Championships live from St. Louis.
    Spirit of Innovation Award Winners: Electric Very Light Car team from West Philadelphia High School
    The West Philly EVX Team from West Philadelphia High School Auto Academy, West Philadelphia, Penn., will display its Electric Very Light Car (EVLC). The EVLC is being prepared for commercial market and will set the standard for efficiency with electric vehicles.
    Spirit of Innovation Award Winners: UTRApod team from Thomas Jefferson High School, Alexandria, Va.
    This student team from Alexandria, Va., will demonstrate its ULTRApod, an underwater unit that uses turbines to harness hydrokinetic energy from a flowing river. Electricity generated by the turbines is then used to power an ultraviolet chamber that disinfects and purifies dirty river water.
    Lockheed Martin brings engineering and Hollywood together in DC! Come and meet actors from the hit TV show NCIS as they pose for photos, sign autographs, and describe how the show incorporates real Lockheed Martin technologies.
    Future Cities
    The Future City Competition is a national, project-based learning experience where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades imagine, design, and build cities of the future. Two student teams will present their projects in the Lockheed Martin exhibit space.
    Science Olympiad
    Science Olympiad student teams from the DC Metro area will demonstrate a variety of devices built for the Science Olympiad competition, including structures, vehicles, musical instruments and catapults. Science Olympiad team coaches will be on hand to share information with teachers and students.
    You’ve read about futuristic printing technologies. This booth will include an iPad game that allows students to construct 3D models of LM products and print them out to a 2Dprinter. The booth will include a 3D printer with continuous output to show how engineers can use them to rapidly prototype 3D electronic models.
    Becoming Sustainable by Design
    The mobile and interactive In the Zone display conveys how Lockheed Martin employees are committed to sustaining people, places and products to ensure the long-term viability of the Corporation. The four different zones, which include Sustainability, Environmental Remediation, Energy & Environment and Safety & Health (EESH), demonstrate how EESH considerations can be applied to everyday actions and business practices.
    The display consists of a pop-up wall and four kiosks, which run interactive presentations and games. The F-35 Carbon Check Demo challenges participants to get the lowest carbon emissions when ordering parts for an F-35. At the conclusion of the game, Festival-goers can ask about how to make more sustainable decisions to reduce carbon emissions as well as costs.
    Robot Raceway
    Grab hold of your creative and competitive instincts as you design and program your own robotic race car and compete against your fellow students to see who can race past the finish line and capture the checkered flag first.
    Mission Capabilities Powered by Cloud Computing
    This demonstration features multiple critical missions that are powered by cloud computing, such as biometric-enabled identity management and emergency response and incident reporting. The identity management demonstration shows how Lockheed Martin can use biometrics to identify and authenticate people to special events, air ports, secure facilities and financial services, securely without compromising user privacy.
    The emergency response and incident reporting demonstration shows how Lockheed Martin uses geospatial data to support crises management and humanitarian incidents. Festival-goers can see firsthand how cloud computing can reduce time to respond to crises on a global basis and provide real time situational awareness to first responders. Both demonstrations are engaging for a wide age range.
    Cyber Security Exhibit: Cyber Security & You!
    Festival-goers can participate in interactive sessions such as Email Flag Identification, Cyber Jeopardy, and other hands-on age appropriate activities.
    Additionally, students will learn how Lockheed Martin delivers technology to customers while also learning about potential career paths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
    Helicopter Simulator Soar through the skies of Washington, DC. This Lockheed Martin demonstration puts you at the hands of a helicopter. Pilot your way up, down, left, right, and spin your way through an aerial tour of our nation’s capital.
    Meet the Astronauts
    Do you dream about becoming an astronaut? Come and meet our astronauts. Hear stories that will help you turn your dreams into reality. This special appearance will include: a speaker Q&A panel and an autograph signing.
    Orion Capsule
    Come and see the next generation of space transportation, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. See the full size test capsule and how it was flown to test the emergency escape system that will ensure the safety of future astronauts.
    Orion service module model and associated materials Alongside the capsule you will see a scale model of the Orion and service module like it will appear in space and see the progress Lockheed Martin is making toward Orion’s first flight. You might even get a chance to fly the Orion Simulator and dock with the International Space Station.
    Hubble Telescope Model
    Have you seen those incredible images from space, taken by the amazing Hubble Space Telescope? Now is your chance to see a scale model of the Hubble and learn how it works.
    Solar Display
    Lockheed Martin-built spacecraft and instruments are giving scientists new insights into how the sun, the center of our solar system, works. See these exciting images and learn a little more about Earth’s brightest neighbor.


    1 Comment

    1. […] általában és fejlesztői szempontból (Szoftver aktualitások, 2011. február 25.) – The future of consumer legacy of immersive technologies [Experiencing the Cloud, April 13, 2012] – The Where Platform from Nokia: a company move to taking […]

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