The All New SIMStation – Part 2: The SIMStation Pro Gen2
The Stages of Product Development
How do product ideas come about? Rarely as a spontaneous inspiration. Ideas do not arise in a vacuum, they develop. This applies to idea finding in general and even more the implementation of ideas in the form of concrete products. Turning product ideas into reality requires lively exchange, communication, and cooperation. To put it more precisely: Ideas develop as a dialogue, as a multi-voiced process. This fundamental conviction is supported by our own years of experience and is consequently reflected in our working methodology and processes.
Of course, there are many dialogue impulses. For our product development, however, three distinct levels have so far proven to be particularly valuable.
An initial orientation can be provided by looking at the industry landscape in general: What is the current status quo? Which solutions for which open questions already exist, which have prevailed, which were not convincing? And what are their respective strengths and weaknesses? A closer look at these specific questions already creates a productive dialogue environment within which one's own product ideas can be ranked/differentiated/developed.
The second dialogue level takes place within the company. On the one hand, as a dialogue between innovative ideas and already existing products of the company. What is their relationship to each other: a form of genesis, complementary expansion, or conceptual new beginning? Clarifying this question can already give the emerging idea more concrete shape, make it more tangible. And secondly, it is important to present the idea in one's own company, to place the idea in the productive environment of the various teams. Of course, a marketing employee has a completely different view of things than a software developer, for example. Different expertise leads to valuable new perspectives and new approaches.
The third level takes up the external perspective of the users. Actual application is the practice-oriented benchmark for all new product ideas. In other words: product ideas are only as good as they offer users functioning solutions to existing problems. Product experiences and expectations of users - but also problems and criticisms that have occurred in the past - point the way for product development. For us, too, many years of intensive customer contact have therefore turned out to be an essential source for our ideas and products. This is particularly true for the SIMStation Pro Gen2, which was developed in the dialogue environment of all these internal and external levels.
The Development of the SIMStation Pro Gen2
With its dialogue-based development, the SIMStation Pro Gen2 is in line with the tradition of its predecessor model. This model - the SIMStation Pro - was not only manufactured in close consultation with the users, but the latter were the decisive impetus for the idea in the first place: namely in the person of Dr Jens Schwindt. The renowned expert in the fields of pediatrics and neonatology approached us with an enquiry in 2012. It was a request for a mobile and flexible AV system for controlled recording and debriefing of in-situ simulation training.
We - at that time active as a company for audio/video and transmission technology in the event sector - were to help with our expertise to implement his ideas of a video-based simulation training. This marked a productive beginning: for an idea, a productive collaboration and not least for the company SIMStation itself. The first result of all these processes was the prototype SIMStation Pro, which - after thousands of hours of use in over 60 countries - is still in use!
But how did the idea of the SIMStation Pro Gen2 come about? It was born out of the awareness that convincing solutions also require constant further development. Because innovation means movement and flexibility. Therefore, even after intensive exchange with our customers and countless internal discussions, we have decided to take the proven predecessor model further with the SIMStation Pro Gen2.
The basic question was: With which innovations can we respond to concrete requirements and needs of the customers that have arisen in practical application and thus strategically expand the functionality of the product line at the same time? Our answer: through a targeted expansion of the system's core features. In the case of SIMStation Pro Gen2, this means the strategic improvement of high-end technology and usability, modularity, and scalability, as well as mobility and flexibility. These levels interlock smartly (they are in dialogue with each other!) and present themselves as a compact overall solution. In the following, we present an overview of some of the most striking new features.
Highlights of the SIMStation Pro Gen2
- Renewed design of the units: The new concept of the product line is reflected in the high-quality look of the units. And with its elegant, clean, clearly arranged lines, it already provides a first visual foretaste of the upcoming version of the user interface of the SIMStation Software (we will keep you up to date on the release date!).
- The modular principle: The system can be freely scaled and strategically expanded according to the modular principle. This includes expansion through additional hardware components, expansion through the separate AudioPlus Unit (with high-performance radio microphones) as well as the possible connection to already existing AV infrastructures.
- Flexible use: Still designed as a mobile simulation unit that can be quickly and easily dismantled, transported, and reassembled, the SIMStation Pro Gen2 is also ideally suited for fixed system installations.
- Intuitive usability: Even with the greatest possible functionality, the system is characterized by its absolute user-friendliness. This includes the simple set-up and self-explanatory installation of the AV system ("Just plug in and simulate!") as well as the handling through the user-friendly software interface and touch screen technology.
- **Ready for the next software generation **: The SIMStation Pro Gen2 fully supports the current version of the SIMStation Software but is already designed for the next version. With the imminent release of the next generation of software, this will be fully and immediately available for the SIMStation Pro Gen2. This will provide users with an even clearer user interface, numerous new functions, and further forms of application. And in addition, thereby full compatibility with SIMStation Enterprise systems is finally achieved in terms of modularity.
- Highest audio quality: Especially regarding audio technology, all conceivable application scenarios and difficulties have been considered. The SIMStation Pro Gen2 therefore has numerous digital and analogue audio inputs and outputs on all boxes - for almost all models and constellations of microphones and loudspeakers.
- Professional Audio DSP: Audio DSP (Digital Signal Processing) enables perfect audio quality even under difficult acoustic conditions by integrating optimization functions such as Acoustic Echo Canceling (AEC), Automated Gain Control (AGC), Background Noise Canceling and Equalizer.
- Dante® Network Audio: A special innovation is that the SIMStation Pro Gen 2 now supports Dante® Network Audio. This means that Dante®-based microphones and speakers can be connected to all network ports.
- For sonorous highlights: The professional network loudspeakers - which can be used mobile, depending on the application - have four channels that can be easily selected on the front panel: Audio to Room, Audio of Patient, Control Room Sound, Debriefing Room Sound. All you must do is connect the speakers to any network port of the SIMStation Pro Gen2 and select the channel; the desired application can then be played. Communication thus becomes a designable, comprehensible, and measurable simulation element.
As a compact overall system consisting of high-end hardware and matching software, the SIMStation Pro Gen2 perfectly adapts to the individual requirements and objectives of professional simulation training thanks to its features. Both the equipment of the different room types, the structural interconnection of the room types and the recording, transmission and debriefing modalities can be designed in a completely variable way. Combined with strategic interfaces to existing AV structures and universal system compatibility, there are manifold further development perspectives if required.
Due to the mobile character of the product line - the compact system fits in just one car! - the SIMStation Pro Gen2 is particularly suitable for flexibly designed simulation scenarios and thus supports versatile application possibilities in the preclinical, clinical, and academic areas. With all this functionality, the SIMStation Pro Gen2 remains true to its user-oriented principle: as complex as the system's functionality may be, its handling must also be simple. Because the SIMStation Pro Gen2 is especially a convincing solution for users; a solution that reveals its added value in practice.
„Challenges and borderline cases of practical applicability have always given us valuable clues for the further potential of our solutions. The constant exchange with our customers has therefore given us an extremely concrete idea of the direction in which the SIMStation Pro Gen2 must develop.“
„With SIMStation Pro Gen2, we have taken a crucial step forward in product development. The powerful result represents a synthesis of the already proven system solution with entirely new elements, functions, and features. The advantages reveal themselves in the application.“