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Honeywell Futurist Competition 1993

Antti Hannula
Helsinki University of Technology

"The Future of Simulation"

Abstract

ln this description 1 will briefly introduce you to subjects very close to my heart, namely how to

leam new languages and communicate withfriends around the world. Both ofthese objectives

can be achieved with the world's most advanced simulator, ARES. This abbreviation stands for

Advanced Real Environment Simulator. It can take you to another world, making youfeeljust

like you were there. Ali this will be achieved through advanced 3D simulation and poweiful

communication networks. As 1 strongly desire to be personally involved in the development of

telecommunications, the next 25 years look fascinating indeed.


The Future of Simulation -1- Honeywell Futurist Competition

The Day After

Would you like to walk through a Japanese shrine, admire all the statues and at the same time learn

Japanese? And all that without ever being more than half an hour away from your home. Today, you can

do that. The technology has come far enough.

This is a story of an invention which revolutionised the idea of time and place. Based on recent advances

in telecommunications techniques and on three dimensional (3D) presentation and detection censors, this

concept responded to the challenges of the demand for language education and travel experience.

We call this device simply ARES or Advanced Real Environment Simulator. The first prototype was built

in the year 2015 and now, three years later, this is what our brochure says about the latest model:

" ...ARES is the most interesting toy man has ever built. And it is much more than only a toy - it is the

most realistic machine able to take you to another world, literally. And as people in interconnected

simulators can communicate with each other, you must be getting an idea of how powerful the ARES can

be..."

The technology behind the scenes is both simple and complex. ARES uses basically components which

are publicly available to keep the cost down, but some custom design parts are also required. ARES is not

just another version of the good old Virtual Reality thing. This is more, this is a complete business idea.

ARES is built around an ordinary room, sized about four meters each way. All the walls, the ceiling and

the f100r together can form a 3D scene inside the room, enabling the most realistic environment

simulating the real world. The surfaces can also detect the exact position of the real (like you) persons and

objects inside the room and therefore track for example the movement. That information can then

contribute to the further actions taken by the simulator. And as the people in the simulation are inside a

free space, no special helmets or other extra burdens are necessary.

Written by Antti Hannula 1993. Property of Honeywell Europe S.A.


The Future of Simulation -2- Honeywell Futurist Competition

There are already several ARES simulators installed all over the world and the number is increasing

rapidly. Each of the machines is connected to the public telecommunications network. This wide band

network is based on the ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) and optical fibre technologies. The network

is able to transmit the information on a scene in one ARES to another ARES machine somewhere else.

One of the ARES controis everything and is located in Paris. 1t takes care of distributing new scenes and

programs 10 the other simulators and also controis the connections between the other machines. Several

ARES sessions can share the same scene and the people can meet each other in this simulated

environment. You are still physically alone in your own ARES room, but you see all the other people as

simulated figures around you. 1ncidentally, have you ever tried to walk through anyone? 1n the ARES

even that can be tried.

Getting interested? You should be, as using the ARES is an ultimate experience. As you first enter the

simulator, you notice nothing special. 1t looks like any other small unfurnished room. But the magic

begins as soon as the simulation mode is activated. Ali the walls, the floor and the ceiling suddenly wake

alive. They form an extremely high definition 3D environment, in which it is very easy to lose cne's sen se

of time and place. The life in the simulator is smoothless and real-time. You can walk around and 10uch

any of the 3D-objects hovering in the air. The only difference is that in this world nothing is real. Because

the physical walls of the room set some real boundaries to the space in which you can move, movements

Iike walking are actually exaggerated by the machine. So to go forward you have to only take a step

forward and the machine makes you walk through the scenery. It could nol be easier.

ARES is currently being used in the three most interesting business dimensions of telecommunications.

These are Telepresence (3D Video Conferencing, formerly also known as Teleconferencing), Travel

Experience (TE), and most interestingly, Language Education (LE). The relatioll between these is

somewhat indistinct, as lhe language educalion, for instance, is done in the environment of a foreign

country.

Written by Antti Hannula 199Z. Property of Honeywell Europe S.A.


The Future of Simulation -3- Honeywell Futurist Competition

Telepresence is the most old fashioned way to use ARES. The rather basic and awkward teleconference

rooms, dating back to the late 1990's, have now widely been replaced by ARES. This is natural, because

with ARES the meeting rooms of parties being on the opposite sides of the earth, can be easily and

comfortably combined. The parties can actually see the others sitting in the chairs brought inside ARES

and communicate just as if they were in the same room. For obvious reasons, however, you cannot

squeeze the hand while handshaking...

A more interesting way to use ARES is the travel simulation. Just think of all those Chinese, Japanese and

other nationalities with a huge population. There is a great demand for different kinds of travel

experiences. But if all of these people would actually begin to travel around the world, the increased

waste and pollution would make the earth an even more difficult place to live. But with ARES there is no

pollution. As a matter of fact, our company has already got recognition for our work creating very

environmentally friendly products. Telecommunications in general is, after all, very environmentally

friendly business.

The scenes available for ARES include environments from several different countries and cities. 1n each

of these place you can go around and see almost anything you want to, because the simulated scene

includes almost complete image of place. With just a touch of a button you can jump from the promenade

of the Champs Elysees to the Shinjuku subway station in Tokyo in rush hour. One of my current

favourites is the one in which 1 can walk on the top of Himalayan mountains. Not to mention being in San

Francisco and watching the Golden Gate in one of those foggy sunsets. 1 wouldn't miss a chance to visit

these real places again, but it takes aiot more time and money.

The third and most interesting use for ARES is in language education. While learning languages, you

easily forget what you have heard. And if you read something, you learn it. But only by experiencing

something you will remember it. This is the basic concept behind the scenes of ARES. Nothing in the

world is more effective in language education than being in the actual situations. Unfortunately, not

everyone can travel to Paris to learn French, to Tokyo to learu Japanese or to Sao Paolo in Brazil to test

Written by Antti Hannula 1993. Property of Honeywell Europe S.A.


The Future of Simulation -4- Honeywell Futurist Competition

one's Portuguese. If, for example, aIl Asian businessmen wanting to learn more languages travelled to

authentic places to learn a language, it would be a catastrophe. That is why my company is in business. If

they cannot go to Paris, Paris must go to them.

Let me now show you how people can benefit from ARES while learning or improving their language

skills. Outside the simulator 1 first select the scene to be Paris. Then 1 push the button for Level Five

French. There are, of course, different languages and different levels of each language available. 1 enter

the simulator and the fun begins.

1 find myself in the middle of Arc de Triomphe. In the sign hovering in the air 1 can see that my first task

is to find a room in a hotel. The sign was only 3D simulation and touching it makes it disappear. Well, as

was told eariier, everything else is simulated as well, but believe me, it looks really real.

1 turn to a couple looking like tourists and ask them where to find ahotel. Well, my question was of

course in French. Unfortunately they turn out to be in another simulator in Palo Aito, California, and are

just taking the rest of the tourist spots they missed on the actual four day activity holiday in real Paris. 1

try again and this time 1 get the location of the tourist information centre where 1 could get more data on

the hoteIs. The person answering me was either one of the teachers being in the same simulaticn or one of

the robots taking care of some of the educational tasks. There was one sentence in the answer which 1

could not understand so 1 ask ARES about that. The answer appears in front of me with an explanation.

After understanding the answer 1 touch it to make it disappear.

With all these nice scenes and gadgets, we soon ask how all this is created. Thanks to the advances in

computing power and neural networks being able to understand three dimensionai objects, creating a

simulation like this is not anymore so painful as it used to be before the change of the millennium. Each of

the ARES surroundings is created by combining a 3D-film shot in the real environment and 3D­

enhancements made with neural network computers.

Written by Antti Hannula 1993. Property of Honeywell Europe S.A.


The Future of Simulation -5- Honeywell Futurist Competition

Shooting the ARES films is a great job. Instead of the camera you use the special Imaging Olasses (10) to

take a look of what you want to include in the simulation. The scenes are then compressed in real-time

with very high performance techniques and sayed in the memory of the computer you are wearing.

Wearing a computer means having it attached to your clothes in a manner that nothing unusual can

actually be seen. If desired, the data can also be sent to the computer located at the headquarters. This

transmission can be sent either with the ordinary digital mobile network or the satellite communications

network.

The second step in the process is to enhance and modify the scenes to the degree required by the project.

The computers based on neural network technology can first analyse the scenes (the "film") and construct

complete 3D environl.lents from that. That is almost enough for the travel simulation. In addition some

additional data !l1ust be attached ta the objects on which the people using the simulation might ask for

more information.

The language education envir:mments or scenes require more work. The necessary instructions and robot

teachers rnust b::: in::;talled in ~he proper locations. Links to the other simulators and to the real teachers

participating in the education are always done dynamically, so we do not take any additional steps for

those functions.

As you should by DOW realise, it is no wonder tha( ARES became so popular aU over the world. When 1

was younger, some 25 years ago, 1 would have dOlle everything to get my hands on something like ARES.

1 still remember all those tedious houn~ wh:Je trying to learn to speak some proper French. With ARES it

would have been so much more fun ...

Written by Antti Hannula 1993_ Property of Honeywell Europe S.A.