Author: Peter Moreira
Publication date: April 20th, 2017
Kognitiv Spark has plunged into the heady market for augmented realty training products, and is now using its traction to raise capital.
The Fredericton company offers an augmented reality solution to help the military and industries with training or instructing remote workers using complex equipment.
Yan Simard – a serial entrepreneur who founded another Fredericton startup, Zaptap – said the company now has clients and is working on about 10 contracts.
“What we’re focusing on is we’re providing holographic and remote training for industry and military operations,” said Simard. “If you’re an operator of heavy equipment who encounters an issue, you can put on a headset and talk it through with an expert.”
Founded by Ryan Groom and Duncan McSporran, Kognitiv Spark lets the trainee or remote worker use an augmented reality headset as a training aid or instructional guide.
For example, if a soldier or worker in a remote location encounters a problem with heavy equipment and has to fix it himself, he can contact an expert back at home base. Donning the headset, he can still see the real equipment, but he can also see a holographic image of the piece of gear floating beside it. The expert at home, who is also wearing a headset, can use the holographic image to show the remote staff member how to fix the equipment. He can draw arrows on the image to show the worker precisely what part he is talking about.
The company offers similar services for training, using holographic images to show people what to do with the real equipment.
Kognitiv Spark started last summer when Groom, who has a strong technical background, began to work on the augmented reality product with McSporran, who has long experience in the military. They formed a partnership with Microsoft, which provides the HoloLens headsets that use software developed by Kognitiv Spark.
Early in the process, they brought in Simard, who has been working with them as an adviser. They’ve also been working with Orange Sprocket, a Fredericton digital design company that does a lot of work with tech clients.
They were soon getting traction with industrial and military heavy equipment operators. And that led to funding. The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation has invested in the company, and Simard said the founders are raising more capital. Simard said the company is drawing strong interest from investors, largely because the company is working in a market worth tens of billions of dollars.
He added the company has a lot of competition because the market offers so much potential, and he knows that the buzz in the marketplace will attract more competitors.
So Kognitiv Spark is now working on constantly improving the product. “The complex parts have all been figured out,” he said. “We’re looking at what are the features client like based on the feedback we’re receiving from them, and we’re work on them.”