Airbus Develops a Holographic Tactical Sandbox App for HoloLens 2
Airbus Defence and Space has this week previewed its Holographic Tactical Sandbox for the HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset. A video preview of the new military decision-making and training tool was published mid this week which demonstrated how Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 headset works with the Airbus Fortion TacticalC2 application.
The Airbus software makes it possible for military officers and personnel to locally visualize 3D maps of battlefield locations within their immediate environments by using head-mounted displays (HMDs). The tool also lets military officers collaborate in training exercises and mission planning simply by rotating, manipulating or annotating the holographic assets as seen through the HoloLens 2 headset. The new tool comes on the heel of Airbus’ recent decision to build Mixed Reality applications for both government and enterprise customers. These applications could also be deployed beyond HoloLens and in other devices such as Magic Leap One.
Military organizations around the world are moving in to embrace immersive technologies in their operations. Microsoft is currently involved in a mega $480 million contract to supply modified HoloLens 2 to the U.S. Army and Airbus will be supplying these HoloLens devices with the advanced AR apps for the military operations.
The video published this week (see below) demonstrates the capabilities of Airbus’ Holographic Tactical Sandbox tool for the AR headsets.
The software has been designed to work in concert with the Airbus TacticalC2 application. By letting military officers visualize 3D maps of battlefield locations, it can be an important mission planning or training tool.
The concept of using physical tactical sandboxes for military training and mission planning is probably as old as conventional warfare itself. It has been in use since the Roman times. In the modern times, we have the advantage of cutting-edge technological innovations such as augmented reality that now enable us design very advanced tactical sandbox for the requirements of the 21st century.
The holographic tactical sandbox app could be a potential game-changer for modern military operations. It will support the same old practice of building tactical sandboxes while also injecting the benefits of cutting-edge modern innovations such as faster preparations, better remote collective mission preparation as well as significant improvements in the perception of the battlefield.
Users of the holographic tactical sandbox app are able rotate, manipulate, interact or annotate with the maps using gesture inputs which enables them to get a view of the terrain from multiple perspectives and accurately point out the tactical advantages in the field ahead of the real-life action. The sandbox app also enables remote networking capabilities so that other users outside the base of operations can view plans and contribute as if they were actually in the same room.
The Holographic Tactical Sandbox was originally released in January this year and is part of Airbus Defence recent drive to build AR applications for both government and enterprise customers.
The demo video released of the application showcases the Tactical Sandbox app on the original HoloLens. However, Airbus is most likely targeting the second-generation HoloLens (HoloLens 2). Airbus has however not specified any particular augmented reality headset in its profile or software so it is possible that it could also sell the solution to a different military outfit that will be using the Magic Leap One headset. The US Army will be using the HoloLens 2 thanks to its multi-million dollar partnership with Microsoft.
Beyond military applications, the software could also have some relevance for civilians. For the first time, we have fully realized the kind of lofty augmented reality tech that was showcased in the cosmic sci-fi movies over the past decades, a goal most people watching at the time must have thought was unattainable. Technologies that seemed so futuristic a few decades back that viewers must have dismissed them as pipe dreams are finally here with us, in our lifetime. The scope of application could be limitless.