Announcing G3

2023-01-05 / Rob Spearman / Software

Nightshade G3 logo

We are pleased to announce the widespread release of our latest generation software stack, G3. By "software stack" we mean all our software from the bare metal hardware and up. Uniquely, our simulators are built upon our own custom assembled software stack that we maintain for you for maximum immersion, reliability, performance, security, ease of use, and low cost of ownership. G3 encompasses a newer embedded Linux operating system and all the libraries, services, and applications that build on top of this to create our seamless simulation experiences. This includes our Nightshade G3 simulation software, Universal Console G3 control interface, etc.

G3 began shipping on new systems last September, and we are now offering it as an upgrade for existing customers. (On older systems a hardware upgrade may be required.) G3 replaces our NG stack. As well as being entirely updated and more future proof, G3 offers some exciting new features:

Cascading Attributes

Io and Callisto scaled
Io and Callisto (both scaled up and other objects muted).

When teaching you often want to quickly highlight a particular object or class of objects. What you do not want to do is to have to go through tedious nested trees of innumerable items to accomplish this. We have come up with a much more intuitive interface that is much simpler to use in our Universal Console G3 Professional interface (release coming January, 2023).

The cascading feature means that more specific settings override more general settings. For example, if you want to show only dwarf planet orbits and make all of them orange except Pluto, this is only 4 attribute changes:

  1. Turn off general planetary orbits.
  2. Turn on dwarf planet orbits.
  3. Set dwarf planet orbits to orange.
  4. Set Pluto's orbit to some other color.
Selecting objects and classes, and changing attributes is easy. Cascading attributes are saved when you save your settings, so you can save or load different configurations in an instant.

Teaching Scale

Planets enlarged 5000x
Planets enlarged in place 5000 times.

One of the first attributes that we made available was the ability to scale a star or planetary body for teaching purposes. The objects will stay at their normal positions but this allows viewing multiple objects at once from a distance for more context. For example, you could enlarge just Io and Callisto and speed up time to demonstrate their orbital resonance effectively.

V8 Media Player

Greenscreen example
Presenter using greenscreen to superimpose over sky (inset).

We developed a powerful new media player that can easily handle the overhead of, for example, 8k x 8k video on supported hardware. One nice feature is the ability to play most video streaming formats onto the dome and manipulate these in real time. This could include Internet streams, or local streams like a desktop. Another new feature is real time color filtering to support things like chroma keying to make colored backgrounds transparent in any image or video sources (including network streams). Using a greenscreen this would let you superimpose a live or prerecorded video of someone onto the dome without the usual video rectangle.

Cinematic Motion Enhancements

We made some behind the scenes changes to refine navigation. For example, tracking an object or flying to an extremely precise location on a body now work just as well regardless of how fast time is sped up. When live and scripted/animated motion are used together, an improvement is that position and orientation can be manipulated separately at the same time. For example, when flying to another planet (a motion that is animated for you) you can optionally use your gamepad to adjust your position (maybe to come in towards the lit side of the planet) or orientation (such as to pan) without changing the rest of your automated flight (altitude).

Demo Opportunities

If you would like to see some of the new features, we are holding some online user group meetings for existing customers. If you are a potential new customer, feel free to request a demo below.

About the Author

Rob is President and co-founder of Digitalis. He spends his time between product development and management responsibilties.

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