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Proceedings of the 1998 Winter Simulation Conference

D.J. Medeiros, E.F. Watson, J.S. Carson and M.S. Manivannan, eds.

SIMULATION MODELING WITH ARTIFICIAL REALITY TECHNOLOGY (SMART): AN INTEGRATION OF

VIRTUAL REALITY AND SIMULATION MODELING

Hank Grant

School of Industrial Engineering

The University of Oklahoma

Norman, OK 73019-1016, U.S.A.

Chuen-Ki Lai

The SABRE Group

4200 Buckingham Rd

Fort Worth TX 76155, U.S.A.

ABSTRACT

Simulation Modeling with Artificial Reality Technology

(SMART) is a simulation modeling tool that provides a

virtual reality interface for building graphical simulation

models. The simulation models, comprised of nodes and

arcs, are constructed in three dimensions. As the user

builds a model, he may immerse himself in it using virtual

reality hardware and software tools and take advantage of

the three dimensional environment provided by SMART.

Models built using SMART can be exported to AweSim,

and simulated as SLAM models (Pristker et al, 1996). The

virtual reality hardware includes an electronic glove and

head-mounted display. The specific hardware is the 5DT

Glove (Fifth Dimension Technologies, 1996) and VIO IGlasses

(Virtual I-O, 1995), respectively.

By wearing the 5DT Glove, the user can navigate

through virtual space and manipulate a three dimensional

simulation model. The VIO I-Glasses allows the user to

experience immersion in the virtual modeling world. The

head-mounted device constantly responds to the motions of

the user's head to reflect changes in his view of the virtual

world. With SMART, simulation practitioners are no

longer restricted to building simulation models on a flat

two dimensional space. Rather, they can now build three

dimensional simulation models with high non-planar

complexity through the virtual reality interface provided by

SMART.

1 INTRODUCTION

Virtual reality has been explored for several years.

One of its initial pioneers was Jaron Lanier who developed

many of its basic concepts (Porter, 1992). Due to the

decreasing cost and increasing power of computers, virtual

reality is being implemented by many industries such as

aviation (Longhurst, 1995), medical (Hollands et al, 1996),

and manufacturing (Expert System, 1995) to address key

areas like training, design, and testing. The three

dimensional visualization capability of virtual reality is the

primary reason why this advanced technology is becoming

the interface of the future for computing. The software

system, SMART has been developed to explore the use of

virtual reality in building simulation models. SMART also

serves as a prototype for testing the feasibility of creating a

virtual reality simulation modeling software system on a

relatively low-cost personal computer (PC).

The simulation models built by SMART can be

exported and then simulated by AweSim as SLAM models

to analyze systems. AweSim is a general purpose

simulation tool developed by Pristker Corporation

(Pritsker, 1996). AweSim and SLAM were chosen for this

research but the concepts of SMART may be implemented

to build any network based simulation model. The

minimum system configuration for SMART is a Pentium

200 MHz processor with 32 Mbytes of RAM and 8

Mbytes of video memory.

2 VIRTUAL REALITY HARDWARE

SMART offers a three dimensional interface using virtual

reality hardware which includes an electronic glove and

head-mounted display. Manufactured by the Fifth

Dimension Technologies, the electronic glove is known as

the 5DT Glove. The head-mounted display is called the

VIO I-Glasses and it is manufactured by Virtual I-O.

2.1 DT Glove

The 5DT Glove is used by SMART as the primary

manual input device. The electronic glove is plugged into

a PC's serial port. The configuration parameters of the

5DT Glove such as the bending angle of each finger and,

pitch and roll of the wrist are constantly sampled by the

PC's serial connection and sent to SMART for processing.

The user controls SMART using a set of gestures to cause

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