Earth Sciences Firm Uses HoloLens For 3D Maps

Earth Sciences Firm Uses HoloLens For 3D Maps
February 23, 2017
BGC worked with Seattle startup Loook on a HoloLens app that lets engineers see immersive 3D map visualizations. Photo via Loook.


When Sébastien Motte and John Howard launched their holographic computing development studio last year, they did not expect to be working with customers in the mining industry.


But that’s exactly what has transpired, with Seattle-based Loook today revealing the Microsoft HoloLens app it built for BGC Engineering, an applied earth science consulting company based in Canada.


The app, an example of the wide range of business applications for the HoloLens and mixed reality in general, essentially turns flat 2D engineering drawings into three-dimensional maps and immersive landscapes with accompanying data. The idea is to better show the scale and scope of a project, while also helping improve communication between BGC and its clients.


“I can show you a million 2D drawings, but you’ll never understand it as clearly as if I show you the same thing in 3D using HoloLens,” BGC Vice President Bill Burton said in a statement. “This has the potential to revolutionize how we communicate on a day-to- day basis.”

As the video shows above, BGC is also using the HoloLens to help clients with projects related to land reclamation.


Motte and Howard launched Loook last year and have developed three mixed reality apps — the BGC app; a 3D data visualization tool for KPMG; and an overhead crane operator training simulation. It also is working with Vulcan on a computer vision object recognition R&D project.

John Howard and Sebastien Motte. Photo via Loook.


The founders are veterans of Microsoft. Howard was most recently a creative director on the company’s HoloLens team; Motte spent nearly 20 years at Microsoft and worked as an executive on the Xbox team.


“When we announced Loook, we talked about our company mission to harness the power of holographic computing to build meaningful applications to raise awareness and empathy, connect people, and protect our planet,” Motte told GeekWire last week“We did not expect to work for the mining industry and rather avoid them, but we realized that by helping them plan better their site reclamations we could have a positive impact on the environment.”


Loook is also focusing on how HoloLens apps can be used in “boardroom scenarios” to help stakeholders make multi-million dollar decisions with more confidence and insight. Three dimensional visualizations like the ones BGC uses can help “getting everyone involved on the same page,” Motte noted.


“By sharing the same mental image you avoid misinterpretations and disconnects allowing for better clarity and confidence,” he said.


Loook, which is also developing its own mixed reality SDK, is still focused on developing enterprise applications and will expand to consumer products “when the market is ready,” Motte noted.


The 4-person company received a small equity investment from its development partner Asobo Studio, a France-based company, but has bootstrapped its way to profitability otherwise.


Motte said he’s convinced that mixed reality specifically — not virtual reality — will be the “next major technology disruption after the smartphone.”


“Tomorrow’s glasses will replace today’s 2D flat screens,” he said. “We purposely skipped VR to go straight to MR because we were impressed with what Microsoft announced with HoloLens and their Windows Holographic ecosystem strategy.”


Microsoft sells the HoloLens, which is still in “development edition,” for $3,000. Microsoft news site Thurrott reported Monday that the company is scrapping plans for a second iteration of the device and instead is focusing on a third version that will debut in 2019.


Microsoft last week unveiled “Spectator View,” a new HoloLens features that lets users share their mixed reality experience with others.

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