FREDERICTON – A local technology firm that uses the Microsoft HoloLens to connect experts with technicians in the field is hiring up to 12 new people to fuel its growth in industrial sectors like aerospace and defence, and oil and gas.

Opportunities NB (ONB) announced on Thursday that it was providing up to 180,000 in the form of payroll rebates to help Kognitiv Spark serve a growing base of customers in other sectors as well, including construction, engineering and manufacturing.

Yan Simard, CEO of Kognitiv Spark, said the company wants to be the leader in its field, and ONB’s support will help them get there faster.

“It’s very important and strategic,” said Simard in an interview. “We have the ambition of becoming the best company in the world in mixed-reality communication and the market is responding to what we’re doing. The financial assistance is helping us build the skillset and the capabilities to fulfill that vision. Without that help, we would not be able to do it as fast. It’s all about time to market.”

The new positions will include project managers, software developers, vertical market leads, 3D modellers and quality assurance specialists.

The company uses holographic visualization, collaboration & connectivity tools, powered by the Microsoft HoloLens, to connect subject matter experts with technicians on the ground trying to solve a problem on a work site or make a repair on a piece of equipment.

Simard uses the example of a helicopter that breaks down at a remote airport as a way to explain Kognitiv Spark’s technological innovation.

“Let’s say you have a helicopter that breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and the techinicians on site at that airport don’t have the knowledge to fix it,” said Simard. “They could put on the HoloLens and connect with the subject-matter expert who might be thousands of kilometres away at the head office. It’s maybe an engineer at the office. That person can see on the computer what the worker is seeing. They can talk to the person in real-time.”

The expert – someone like an engineer, says Simard – can then walk the technician through the repair, saving the company the time and expense of sending the expert to that remote location.

Kognitiv Spark recently won a Microsoft Canada Impact Award for its innovative use of the Microsoft Hololens.

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Simard says the company was founded by people in technology fields and people with deep knowledge and experience in industrial sectors like aerospace and defence, and oil and gas. As a result, they were able to identify a solution to common challenges in these fields.

“We realized that everyone has the same problems and the same challenges,” said Simard. “They’re all trying to find ways to reduce equipment downtime, reduce travel costs for subject-matter experts when situations arise, and be better at doing knowledge transfer between experts and field workers.”

Simard says they’re industry leaders in sectors sensitive about security issues.

“We are the only ones that can provide that level of communication with the robustness and security that is required for industrial and military [uses],” he said.

The company will employ between 20-25 people in a year’s time once everyone has been hired using the funding provided by ONB. The provincial Crown corporation uses the payroll rebate program to help create jobs in the early stages of a company’s growth.

It was the second ONB funding announcement in Fredericton in the last two days. On Wednesday, it announced it would provide $385,000 in the form of payroll rebates to Cvent, which plans to hire 25 new people and move its office to downtown Fredericton from Knowledge Park.

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