What is Visual Simulation?

Ken Black

Visual simulation is a type of computer application that helps users interact with certain stimuli by projecting a realistic graphical representation, often in three dimensions. The term is most often seen in different types of games, especially games played on a computer. A flight simulator would be one common example of a visual simulation. Despite this common use, this type of computer simulation can also be used for more practical purposes, including business training applications, and in the medical field.

Visual simulation games have rich three-dimensional graphics that require advanced graphics cards.
Visual simulation games have rich three-dimensional graphics that require advanced graphics cards.

Some companies have taken the concept of visual simulation to the next level, creating large-scale virtual reality devices that can be used in a number of different ways. For example, some can project a three-dimensional image of the human body, or a portion of the human body. This can be done by projecting an MRI image into a three-dimensional picture, which may aid in diagnosis and treatment of a condition.

In addition to the medical aspect, visual simulations can also help engineers visualize where to find certain natural resources and build certain products. The technology is already being used by oil companies as they search to tap into new fields that have been previously untouched. Further, the technology can be used to help aircraft designers build safer and more aerodynamic aircraft.

Despite this advanced technology, most individuals are more familiar with visual simulation through the use of simulation games. Many of these games simply use advanced graphics to help project a two-dimensional image in a way that appear to be three dimensional. Some may even use special goggles so that the individual can become completely immersed in the game from a visual perspective, eliminating the need for a panoramic screen. In many ways, it is simply another version of the previously-mentioned technology, but used for fun and games.

In order to come up with a quality visual simulation, the information the programmer uses must be highly detailed and precise. While it may seem like adding a third dimension makes the simulation 33 percent more difficult, the reality is somewhat different. The added dimension means that all parts of the simulation must be enhanced and correctly measured. This can greatly add to the difficulty of the project.

Those who work on visual simulation products tend to have a degree in computer engineering or some other type of engineering degree. This provides a technical background that all programmers need. Given the highly technical nature of the product, some companies even require their sales staff to have engineering degrees so that they can properly consult with customers and provide a realistic expectation as to what the company can deliver.

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