April 1, 2011 in ATDC News

The Startup Chronicles: Simcraft’s Three Degrees of Freedom

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SimCraft, an ATDC member company since mid-2006, was born in the late 1990s out of the work of William MacDonald, a retired engineer from Eastman Kodak who wanted an affordable flight simulator. At the time the best simulators available were based on an expensive six-legged platform that uses hydraulics to move a cockpit like the bulky, enclosed $20-a-ride simulators you sometimes see at shopping malls and amusement parks. MacDonald used off the shelf components to build the SimCraft flight simulator, which is less expensive and requires much less force to operate than the older simulators.

In late 2007 SimCraft was selected alongside Ford to develop driving simulators for the US Army SAVE Program. SAVE is dedicated to preventing soldier vehicle accidents, which are the leading cause of accidental death within the military. The program has continued for over three years and has helped SimCraft advance their simulation software by leaps and bounds.

The ever improving SimCraft driving simulator has since been endorsed by NASCAR, GrandAm, and Indy drivers as the most realistic simulator on the market because of its instantaneous response to input as well as its realistic motion. Having super accurate laser scanned copies of professional race tracks means that drivers can experience a track without as many expensive test runs on the track itself.

By January 2009 SimCraft had introduced the APEX full motion racing simulator to the gaming and consumer industries. The SimCraft motion simulators interface with dozens of commercially available PC based racing and flight games. There is even a simulator system called STAR that customers can self-assemble.

Stephen Fleming, Vice President of the Enterprise Innovation Institute, trying out the APEX simulator from SimCraft

APEX had truly made its mark on the consumer market by August of 2010 when PC Gamer enthusiastically reviewed SimCraft’s APEX sc830 calling it a “nifty contraption [that] can turn your favorite racing sim into a full-on roller coaster ride.”

The price limits the number of gaming customers, but with a price at an order of magnitude lower than the old platform models, the number of professional customers has taken off. Today, the Skip Barber Racing School classroom at Road Atlanta and Sam Schmidt Motorsports of Indianapolis sport APEX simulators and many professional drivers rely on the APEX to prepare for races.

SimCraft has spent a over a decade perfecting motion simulation and proving that roll, pitch, and yaw are all you need to feel like a real race car driver.

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