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Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.

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Budget Simulators

Manufacturers are finding ways to create better use-of-force simulators at lower costs.

April 19, 2011  |  by Tim Dees - Also by this author


IES's MILO can be operated from a laptop or from a tablet computer such as an Apple iPad.

IES Interactive Training

Right at the top of our conversation, Jason Lamons with IES Interactive Training stressed the value of his company's products. "Everyone is in a bad place financially because of decreased tax revenue. We've made sure we have products at the right price point with features aligned with what our customers want to achieve in training."

IES is seeing a dramatic shift toward computer-generated graphics (CGI) in scenario development. The company has put a lot of effort into developing CGI-based marksmanship systems that are user-configurable according to need.

Using one of the MILO variants of the IES system, an instructor can create nearly any firearms range he can conceive in his head. Operating the range is done from a touchscreen interface that controls target type, distance, pop-ups, and other actions. Because of the cost of ammunition and time to travel to a physical range, many IES customers are using their MILO systems for practice, and moving to the live fire range only for qualification.

When Apple introduced the iPad last year, the world at last understood what a "tablet computer" was. MILO systems can be run from an iPad, which is supplied by IES on request. However, IES usually recommends a Windows-based tablet to save costs and keep everything running under a single operating system. A configuration called "Quickset" eliminates the need to run cables and connect components. The instructor rolls in the system, plugs in power, and starts training.

Customer feedback on scenarios has placed more emphasis on close-quarter combat, including room-clearing and breaching exercises. The MILO systems will operate multiple screens in multiple rooms if desired, with everything controlled from a single instructor console.

The same tools used to design virtual ranges are also used to develop virtual shoot houses with pop-up or animated character targets. Some simulator manufacturers use weapon-mounted joysticks to show movement through a scenario, but IES has focused on controlling movement through pre-scripted actions or touchscreen input from the instructor.

CGI has come a long way, but it still can't beat video for realism. "Graphics can't replicate the subtle cues that police need to make a judgment call," Lamons says. "With video, you can see the tightening neck muscles or a shift in stance that tells him he is about to be
assaulted."

Because video is still the best teaching medium, IES provides each customer with the best possible tools to create their own video scenarios. Each system ships with an HD camera and a wizard-based editing suite operated from the system console. In 20 to 30 minutes, a trainer can shoot the video required for a scenario and edit it on the same computer used to run the MILO system. The software "wizard" guides the trainer through the creation of the scenario, helping to designate branching points and target zones and producing a custom, high-quality product.

Firearms training is as much about technique as use-of-force decision-making. IES provides an exceptional level of instructor feedback tools for student coaching. A trigger monitor on each of the firearms used with the simulator records when the shooter takes up the trigger slack, reaches the break point, and engages the trigger reset. If the shooter is jerking or slapping the trigger, the monitor will reveal it.

In addition, the shooter's line of sight is recorded throughout the scenario to indicate if the front sight was dropped just prior to firing, a common error. A heart rate monitor records the shooter's stress level throughout the problem. One option unique to IES is a wireless baton that operates similarly to the Wii controllers on home gaming systems.

All of these indicators are recorded for playback during the instructor's debrief, to be played with the scenario. As an additional coaching tool, the debrief itself can be recorded and saved on a USB flash drive so that the shooter can review it as many times as desired.

CONTINUED: Budget Simulators «   Page 2 of 3   »

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