The MILO Range PRO offers a touchscreen User Interface allowing trainers to quickly load scenarios without a keyboard or mouse.
Multiple sim manufacturers showed their systems at this year's conference.
One of the best things about attending the International Law Enforcement Educators and Training Association (ILEETA) conference held this week in the Chicago area is that trainers get some serious hands-on experience with some of the latest training tools, including use-of-force simulators.
In one hallway of the conference hotel there was a different simulator company in every room. Trainers could walk in, chat with company reps, run scenarios on the systems, and actually learn some tips about using them for training. This is a very different experience from seeing the systems on the exhibit floor at a trade show where the cops in attendance sometimes treat these sims as glorified video games.
On display at ILEETA were sims ranging from suitcase models up to multi-screen, immersive systems. Here are seven:
Advanced Interactive Systems
The latest features on the AIS PRIsim suite make it easier for trainers to interact with their students during scenarios. While the student is speaking with the scenario role player, the trainer can choose a variety of responses. Trainers can escalate or de-escalate the situation based on the student's performance.
AIS senior instructor Richard Oberlander explains that the interactive aspects of the PRIsim are a focus for the company's research and development. "Customers are demanding this kind of experience, so we are working very hard to deliver it," he says.
CAPS (Canadian Academy of Practical Shooting) makes a live-fire use-of-force sim that lets officers use their own duty weapons and their own duty loads. The system offers 550 pre-recorded scenarios, including vehicle stops to domestic disputes to active shooters. Trainers can easily set up the system on their range. The simulator is housed in a rugged shipping container, weighs less than 100 pounds, and is mounted on wheels. Images are projected onto a white paper screen that is mounted in a wooden frame.
The big news out of IES is the company's new touchscreen interface for the MILO system. Enabled by Windows 7 and a touchscreen display, the touchscreen interface works much like the screen of a smart phone or iPod. The practical benefit for the instructor is that commands to the system are much faster and much more intuitive. Using this system, trainers do not have to read the screen. They choose the scenario and the weapons involved by visual cues, then they just touch the screen to run the scenario. The touchscreen capability is now available on all MILO systems. Users need a computer with a 64-bit processor and Windows 7.
The iMarksman from iSniper Inc. is a virtual target and dry fire practice system. It includes a sensor camera and tripod, dry fire laser inserts for weapons, software, and extra batteries, all for $999. To use the iMarksman for training, you will also need a computer, a digital projector, and a screen or a light-painted wall.
Of course for that price, you're not buying a Cadillac system. The iMarksman is not a video use-of-force sim. It's more like a Hogan's Alley kind of thing where the shooter has to make shoot/don't shoot decisions when presented with photo targets. Trainers can use background photos from their own jurisdictions so that the Hogan's Alley experience happens in the local bus station, bank, parking lot, etc. Probably the real training value of this system is that it can be used to show officers the path of their draw and the consistency of their trigger squeeze.
Meggitt Training Systems
The newest training sim from Meggitt is the Next Generation Virtual Training System (XVT). Meggitt's XVT is small enough to fit in the trunk of a patrol car but offers all the capabilities of the company's larger systems, including the BlueFire wireless weapon system.
Weighing 54 pounds, the compact XVT includes the projector, the scoring system, and the CPU. Trainers can set up the XVT on the floor or mount it on the ceiling of the training room. The system comes with 275 scenarios preloaded.
Todd Brown, vice president of training at Ti Training, demonstrated the company's latest innovations for its Training Lab, including its latest 3D scenarios. One major new feature on the Training Lab is ADC (Auxiliary Device Control).
ADC permits the trainer to trigger light bars, smoke, noise, and other environmental effects. Brown says that ADC makes the training experience much more real for the student. "It lets the trainer do a better job of replicating the actual working conditions that the student will face on the street," he adds.
VirTra's IVR HD systems are some of the most versatile and immersive use-of-force simulators on the market. At ILEETA, VirTra showed its 300-degree wraparound system, the IVR-300 HD. The simulator has multiple screens so threats can approach from the sides and the rear of the student. Also, the sim can accommodate multiple students simultaneously so they can work on group tactics.
Spencer Stone, VirTra's business director of law enforcement, says that the company is now offering a lot more CGI effects to its customers. The goal, according to Stone, is to make the training experience more realistic.
The visuals on the VirTra are stunning, but what really sets the IVR-300 HD apart from many other simulators is its sound quality. Stone was playing a helicopter effect at ILEETA, and it sounded like one was landing in the training area. For more realistic bass sounds, the training stage features a series of transducers. The effect is very realistic.
Virtual Reality Training
Training Simulators (photo gallery)