The Training Revolution Continues
We’re excited to announce DART 3, which will be shipping in Q4 2019. Before the actual release, we wanted to pull the curtain back on some of the new features we’ve been working on during the past year, and take a look at how far DART has advanced.
When DART was introduced, it used a single target that moved forward and back – very similar to a traditional live fire range. Even then, DART included innovative course creation software that made it possible for anyone to create their own courses of fire with multiple stages and rules. In addition, we developed a calibration and laser tracking system that made setting up DART virtually effortless. Although the targets were 2D and the graphics were modest, the whole system was built on a powerful 3D engine that would be leveraged by future updates.
However, we realized that firing ranges in general provide a poor simulation of deadly encounters. Targets move little, if at all, and the officer stands still while firing. Simulators built using 2D video movies weren’t much better because of the technical limitations of video which restrict the movement of targets. In addition, it was impossible to alter these movies after they were filmed.
A year later, we released DART 2 with more than 100 new features including changeable scene graphics, a unique time-of-day lighting system, and multiple targets controlled through point-and-click behaviors. Combined, these features began to harness some of the power of DART’s 3D engine and made it possible to create situations and scenarios outside a normal flat range experience. Using rapidly moving 2D targets, the user could create courses of fire which were dynamic, unpredictable, and easily changeable.
Our goal has always been to offer the most realistic training system available, which obviously includes realistic people and environments that were beyond the features available in DART 2, but just as important as those elements are, they would be much less effective if they weren’t built upon a good foundation that made creating courses and scenarios easy.
The features in DART 2 were specifically created to set the table for DART 3 and beyond. For example, target paths and behaviors introduced in DART 2 make it easy to create a situation in which an onscreen target may – or may not – brandish a weapon during an encounter. This type of movement and unpredicatbility offers a number of distinct advantages over simulators based on older 2D video movie technology.
Which brings us to DART 3.
With the solid foundation we have built with previous versions, DART 3 begins to maximize the advantages of 3D over 2D. We’ll talk about a few of these here: TruTargets, 3D environments, and enhanced lighting.
Realistic 3D People
DART 3 introduces 3D people called TruTargets to the training environment, but what makes them realistic might be different than you’d think.
Simulators which use 2D video movie technology use people (actors) which appear realistic, but due to the restrictions of the technology don’t move realistically. Often these actors must stay in place once an encounter begins – and of course, movies can’t change from one training session to the next. TruTargets are free of those limitations. Of course, we take care to make sure our targets have a realistic appearance, but even beyond that is the work that goes into making our targets move realistically. And since DART 3 uses the same system of paths and behaviors introduced in DART 2, TruTargets can move in precise or unpredictable ways – and they’re easily changeable so courses don’t lose their training value over time.
Realistic 3D Environments
People don’t operate in a vacuum. They interact and take advantage of entrances, exits, and cover. These structures are referred to as props in DART 3 and can be as simple as a wall or as complex as a school. Leveraging the interactive approach of DART 3, props can be easily added, removed, and moved around the scene with the mouse in real time.
Realistic 3D Lighting
It’s easy to underestimate the importance of lighting and shadow, but its crucial to the accurate recreation of any scenario or situation. DART 3 uses a time-of-day slider to set basic lighting conditions which can be augmented by individual lights that are easily positioned and adjusted. A person holding a phone in the light of day becomes less clear in shadows or low light.