At ITEC in Rotterdam this week, Dave Fluegeman, Vice President, Simulation for Barco Entertainment Division North America, is a quietly confident man. The reason is a resounding one – which we promise is the last attempt at a laboured audio-related pun.
Since the acquisition of Iosono by Barco’s entertainment division in late 2014, much work has gobe into leveraging the technology into the entertainment market – which was Barco’s original motivation for the acquisition. Early on, however, Fluegeman saw its potential application to the simulation market. “I looked at (the technology) and thought situational awareness,” he told MONS on 17 May.
The injection of realistic audio – not just noises directly related to the platform on which the trainee is being instructed but encompassing the complete spectrum of environmental and ambient noise – seems poised to have far-reaching and perhaps even disproportionate effects on immersive training applications. Now branded as Barco AudioCue, the omnidirectional, multichannel and enveloping nature of the sound provided can – and will – enhance the learning environment for trainees and help to cement skills and lessons learned.
“This is realistic audio – not just transferring the ability of a home theatre system to a simulation,” Fluegeman explained. “Sound is a controllable sensory stimulus and here we can made it part of the real time stream in the sim – up to 128 channels; it is tailor made for applications in immersive simulation and training.”
The approach Barco has taken to leveraging this capability in the simulation market has been a reserved one – taking gradual steps to introduce concepts, educate potential users and listen to and integrate feedback. This is a one-off opportunity that Fluegeman and his colleagues recognise could give them a sustainable competitive edge and taking time to ensure it is fully exploited is certainly a success-oriented business strategy. Applications will eventually largely be limited only by the operator’s or developer’s imagination, but multi-engine aircraft, special mission aircraft and helicopters certainly figure high on the list of short term targets. And there is time to exploit the opportunities: “This is a unique capability. And it’s patented. Which is why it is still unique,” Fluegeman explained.