Digital Projection International (DPI), an Emmy® Award-winning manufacturer of high-performance projection systems, Scalable Display Technologies, a leading provider of software for automatic edge-blending, and Electric Picture, a leading systems integrator recently collaborated on a significant system upgrade to STAR Center’s maritime training simulator in Dania Beach, FL. This upgrade resulted in increased imagery resolution and vertical coverage, improved color management and made overall system maintenance more efficient.
In operation since 1993, STAR Center (Simulation, Training, Assessment & Research) is regarded internationally as a top destination for ocean-going and inland professional maritime training and research. A division of the AMO Safety and Education Plan, STAR Center is the primary training provider for the U.S. merchant marine officers represented by American Maritime Officers.
At a time when some training facilities are compromising on overall experience by implementing flat-panel based simulators, STAR Center’s 16’ tall, 360° immersive ship bridge training display delivers an incomparably realistic experience. The sought-after training facility is so well respected that, with its previous components in place, the bridge simulator often operated from 7:00 a.m. to beyond 1:00 a.m., at least five days a week, for eight years. Not surprisingly, the bridge simulator was ready for a performance and modernization overhaul in 2012.
STAR Center contacted Melbourne, Florida-based Electric Picture, the integrations company that installed the original simulator components, regarding the ideal components for the upgrade. There were three main items that Brian Long, director of STAR Center, wanted the upgrade to address: the image quality from the outdated projectors wasn’t up to standard, the external warp and blend boxes in use needed regular maintenance, and the system needed overall color controls. As the system was in such a high-use application, a long-term components warranty was also important to ensure the simulator performed at top level for years to come.
“The upgrade was a resounding success,” commented Brian Long. The existing projectors were replaced by nine of DPI’s higher-resolution HIGHlite WUXGA 660 projectors with built-in advanced warp and blend capability, courtesy of their internal Fusion software. With the ability to run in both single and dual-lamp mode, the HIGHlite displays allow the STAR Center to accentuate extreme brightness or increased lamp efficiency based on the configuration. Additionally, the HIGHlite displays came with 3-year factory warranties. A further benefit resulting from the projector upgrade allowed Electric Picture to increase the simulator’s vertical field of view, which, as Long noted, was “a very big deal indeed. The extra projected height reinforces that feeling of depth and full immersion and gives the simulator a much more realistic feel. The experience is very similar to being on an actual ship.”
Scalable Display Manager software is used to automatically calibrate the warp and blend for the full display. Scalable Display Manager is a patented camera based system that provides STAR Center the ease of use of “one touch” calibration. This installation also features advanced color matching to ensure the simulator appears unified and seamless.
Long and the entire STAR Center team take their training responsibility very seriously. “Our central goal at STAR Center is to help produce the most well-trained, prepared maritime officers in the world. The newly upgraded bridge simulator will help us achieve that goal for years to come.”