What is High Fidelity Virtual Simulation?
In traditional sim, ‘high fidelity’ is a relative term. As manikins became increasingly capable, differentiating terminology was needed.
Is there a similar distinction in virtual sim?
This came up during a conversation with Mitchell Luker from NWTC as we were preparing to roll out the ‘Simulation Success’ initiative with nursing instructors, they described Acadicus as ‘high fidelity virtual sim.’ This got me thinking..
Virtual sim is already tricky to define, given its dynamic, rapidly evolving nature. In fact, by the time many research papers are published, their assumptions about VR capabilities are often outdated. On the development front, in just 3 years of development, we’re already replacing ‘old’ patients with far more realistic and capable new generations, and the next generation is already on the boards.
Virtual sim is advancing rapidly, and the rate of change is only getting faster.
Toward this end, for now, it seems to me that processing power is a far more relevant indicator of fidelity potential in this context.
No matter which headset or software you choose, the level of realism, capabilities and interactions will always depend on how much processing power you have access to.
Mobile headsets like Quest have a tiny graphics chip. However, if you power it with a gaming PC, your virtual world gets substantially more realistic, and far more sophisticated. No matter how you slice it, processing power has a direct and obvious impact on capabilities and realism.
Some virtual sim vendors are heavily invested in making the many compromises required to get their app to run on the tiny processing capability of mobile VR headsets. You can indirectly see the costs of these compromises handed down in their pricing. Our team has been down this road before, and strategically decided to take a different, albeit contrarian, approach with Acadicus in favor of the expanded capabilities, and lower costs associated with PC VR development.
Just like the Esports labs opening in schools everywhere, we’re harnessing the enormous and rapidly advancing power of the PC to supercharge high fidelity virtual simulation to offer increasingly realistic simulation experiences.
In fact, Windows PC’s are among the least complicated and least expensive pieces of equipment sim labs own. Most schools already have legacy infrastructure and human resources available to support PC’s. There’s also a lot more you can do with these PC’s in a sim lab than VR, and a whole lot more content to work with.
As an added benefit, ‘high fidelity’ in the context of virtual sim can actually cost less. In fact, even when you factor in the cost of the PC’s, Acadicus is often far less expensive than low fidelity apps optimized for mobile.
At a school with a PC VR lab, students enjoy access to stunningly realistic high fidelity virtual simulation they can’t get on their Quests at home. It’s an attraction that drives engagement.
Instructors aren’t stuck with limiting, pre-programmed apps. Instead, they get to have a voice in the design of their simulations in a way that best suits their curriculum and objectives. The extra processing power enables them to enjoy total customizability (not just drop-down menus) afforded by greater processing power that could never work on a mobile device.
While you’re getting your VR initiative off the ground, first focus on where it can have the greatest impact. Then, invest in platforms and content that put you and your instructors in the driver’s seat of innovation, along with the processing power they’ll need to get there.
That’s my 2 virtual cents. See you on the virtual frontier!
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