Developing a Standardized Tri-Service Medical
Simulation Platform: The TOPS Initiative

Alan Liu, Thomas Talbot, Terry Yoo,
Solomon Sherfey, Eric Acosta, Gilbert Muniz

MMVR 2011

Workshop Abstract

The military’s use of simulation technology has improved medical training. It has also given rise to an unexpected problem. Commercial products employ multiple hardware platforms to simulate different procedures. There is considerable duplicate functionality. As adoption within the military becomes widespread, needless replication increases acquisition, distribution, and maintenance costs.

To address this concern, an initiative is underway to develop a standardized hardware platform. This initiative seeks to develop specifications for hardware, software, and interface requirements. The objective is to allow multiple procedures to use the same set of core computing resources.

The successful implementation of standards requires thoughtful interaction among end-users, regulatory bodies, and technology providers. This workshop provides insight into each of the three areas. Speakers at this workshop will highlight the following:

  • An Open Door to Innovation

    Open source and open standards for medical training systems are a new concept to military medical training software and systems. The Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) is pursuing a strategy to introduce open standards for hardware and open source developer tools with the goal of increasing innovation and competition while simultaneously reducing redundant and repetitive development. It is theorized that implementation of open source tools for physiology, non-player character artificial intelligence, natural language processing, anatomy and haptics, and medical assets will lower barriers to new innovators to pursue more advanced and efficacious medical training.

  • The Military Medical Simulation and Training Consortium (MMSTC).

    This consortium comprises of key Department of Defense elements involved in guiding the adoption and use of medical simulation within the military. This presentation will discuss the motivation for the formation of the MMSTC, as well as its mission objectives.

  • Standard Setting and Development

    While diplomacy may open doors to cooperation among humankind, it is standards that build the bridges by which we conduct commerce of all types – intellectual, monetary, commercial, industrial. What are standards? Where do they come from, and how is it that they shape our daily lives? This brief discussion will address the national/regional/international standards organizations and the principles by which they develop and maintain standards.

  • Open Source + Open Data = Open Science

    The Insight Toolkit is an open source software initiative for medical image analysis. This project has been executed by a geographically distributed consortium, and this international coalition has developed not only the image processing API, but also the necessary software engineering tools and infrastructure to support multiple platforms, a broad cross-section of compilers, and a variety of operating systems and programming languages. The success of this program is constantly being assessed, but the spread of ITK among international research laboratories and its incorporation as part of the software foundation of organizations such as the Allen Brain Institute and National Alliance for Medical Image Computing are strong indications of them impact that ITK is having on the community.

  • A Pipeline Architecture for Parallel Virtual Environments

    We present a novel pipeline architecture to develop Virtual Environments for multicore CPU systems. The architecture is shown to be efficient and scalable across the current range of multicore processors. Near linear speed-ups have been observed in experiments involving hundreds of objects on a six-core i7 CPU. We also demonstrate that sophisticated VEs for medical simulation can be efficiently described and visualized using the architecture.

  • The TOPS Development Roadmap

    The Tri-service Open Platform for Simulation is an effort to develop a common base hardware architecture for medical simulation. TOPS will be adopted by the MMSTC as a standard platform. TOPS will support multiple medical training applications through the use of hardware and software extensions. This presentation will highlight the motivation for the TOPS initiative. End-user goals for this platform will be discussed. The development timetable will be outlined, and plans for involving academic and commercial partners will be put forth for discussion.