Worn as goggles by users, Microsoft HoloLens is the first fully untethered, holographic computer, enabling interaction with high‑definition holograms.
Saab Australia, based in the South Australian capital Adelaide, is a defence, security and traffic management solutions provider specialising in computer based command and control systems.
Head of Training and Simulation Inger Lawes said the company had identified three initial markets: its traditional defence and security market, the enterprise market – primarily large corporations wanting bespoke applications to address a specific need – and internal applications for the company’s own development.
“A year or so ago we came across Microsoft’s work with holograms and specifically HoloLens and pretty quickly saw that this was a piece of technology that had the potential to revolutionise the way that training can be delivered but also a whole range of other things we are broadly involved in,” Lawes said.
“We want to produce applications that are at the sophisticated end of what HoloLens can do. For example there are a lot of games on this thing that are a lot of fun but that’s not where we want to be, we want to be at the upper end of what’s possible.”
Lawes said applications could range from training programs for school students and defence company employees to advanced assembly software for high-value manufacturers.
He said the company was initially focusing on internal training applications for HoloLens but would deliver an application for its first external customer in September.
“It’s pretty exciting because there’s nothing better than going from good ideas to actually fielding something in a relatively short time,” he said.
“We want to stay within our business of defence and security but we also want to explore applied markets such as using HoloLens to support sophisticated manufacturing.”
“We’re in such a great position with this technology because we really are in uncharted waters. We really don’t know what’s going to happen – we know it’s going to be fantastic but what direction we go we’ll see.”
Lawes said Microsoft had “gone out of its way” to help Saab establish a HoloLens studio in Adelaide and would provide the necessary hardware.
He said English language skills and an existing relationship with Microsoft made Saab Australia a logical choice.
“Microsoft are interested in helping us because Australia is a close friend of the United States, we speak English – everything that’s deployed on Hololens at the moment is in English – we’re able to work in the defence and security market and have developed a strong working relationship with their opposite numbers at Microsoft,” he said.
“Our plan is to set up globally in Adelaide. Our market then becomes near region but going into Europe on the back of our existing business relationships is also a real possibility.
“So when we are up and running this time next year we’ll be an export business as well as a domestic supplier.
“Every conversation we have with this technology reveals another good idea and for us it’s really exciting to be involved.”
– Andrew Spence