A New Brunswick company has turned science fantasy into software that helps companies fix broken equipment faster.
Kognitiv Spark's RemoteSpark software allows users to bring up three-dimensional objects that show up virtually in the physical environment using a smartglass headset, said Yan Simard, the company's chief executive, during a press conference in Fredericton on Thursday, where he announced the company's plans to expand its workforce.
Wearing a Microsoft HoloLens headset, Devin Patterson, an employee, interacted with a virtual valve mechanism that appeared to him through the headset's eyeglass, as part of a demonstration of the software. A screen behind Patterson then relayed what he could see to a small audience of people in attendance, showing the valve mechanism sitting in the room in front of him.
"Essentially it [RemoteSpark] creates a secure mixed reality communications link between an industrial worker that is facing a task on-site and a remote subject matter expert that is often times located in an office somewhere," Simard said.
Simard said mixed reality is a combination of virtual reality and augmented reality, where users can see the physical world but also interact with objects that appear virtually.
The software has real-world application in the oil and gas, construction and mining industries, and the military, where specialized technical support has to be shared among employees, Simard said.
Simard said an employee working on an oil rig who has the headset and the RemoteSpark software, could be walked through how to fix a component from another employee who's in another location.
"So they are able to address situations faster and better because they can help a person right away without having to travel on-site," Simard said.
Having won Microsoft's Impact Award for innovation with hardware in July, Simard said RemoteSpark has become recognized among big tech players as leading the charge in mixed reality software development.
"A lot of what you saw today, nobody else in the world is able to do it and when it comes to stability and the robustness of the application, we’re recognized by leading companies such as Microsoft for having a very robust system," he said.
Simard said the company has secured several million-dollar contracts with companies across North America and is getting interest from companies in Europe and Asia. With an addition of 12 employees to the 10 it already has, Simard said Kognitiv Spark will be able to further grow its market share.
Deputy Premier Stephen Horsman said during the event that Kognitiv Spark is eligible to receive up to $180,000 from Opportunities New Brunswick for payroll support with the new hires.
The new positions will include project managers, software developers, vertical market leads, 3-D modellers and quality assurance specialists. Four have already been hired and the remaining eight will be hired in the coming months, Simard said.