Adventures in mixed reality: How Windows Insiders helped support a high-tech hunt for hidden pirate treasure

Man using HoloLens.

This Windows Insider story actually had its start over 200 years ago on a small island off Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1799, a deep, multi-levelled shaft was discovered on the shores of Oak Island, a long-reputed hideout for pirates. Further digging uncovered a mysterious stone tablet hinting at riches further below. That tablet would inspire over 200 years of treasure hunters, including President Roosevelt and other famous investors.

Fast forward to 2018. Two brothers from Michigan, USA, launch the largest Oak Island dig yet. To help with the dig, the newest treasure hunters enlisted services from Irving Equipment Limited — a national heavy lift, specialized transport and deep foundations service provider. Irving Equipment then engaged Kognitiv Spark, a Windows Mixed Reality developer, for innovative planning support.

Data from drone surveys of the Oak Island site were fed into Irving Equipment’s proprietary lift planning software, CraneCADTM. Kogntiv Spark then used its application RemoteSpark to create a 3D hologram. This hologram was used as a visualization tool to collaborate on the dig and fine tune their approach.

The version of RemoteSpark that was used to create that 3D hologram had been recently updated with the help of Windows 10 Insider Preview builds. As it turns out, it was an important update.

The future of mixed reality meets the future of Windows

One of the challenges with creating RemoteSpark was moving 3D images from HoloLens devices into a compelling 2D view on Windows 10 PCs. “RemoteSpark is used to transmit extremely complex visualizations between teams and we needed to make the 2D view more dynamic,” says Ryan Groom, co-founder of Kognitiv Spark.

As the team discovered, New Fluent Design updates in Windows 10 could help the team achieve that. “With Fluent Design, you can bring that natural feel of shadows and transparency and light that you get in 3D view to the 2D interface so that it feels holographic and modern.”

The only problem was timing: the team had first learned about the Fluent Design update at a Microsoft Build event but it would be months before the update would be available publicly. And that’s where Windows 10 Insider Preview builds were useful.

“What we saw with Insider Preview builds on the PC is what we’d see on the HoloLens. So, we were able to build protoypes with the new Fluent Design and get our updates done even before the HoloLens preview bits were available. “Working with Insider Preview builds gave our developers a six-week head start,” say Groom. “Rather than rush to adapt to the new UI, we actually had time to build it and test it and show clients that we were on the right track.”

With Insider Preview builds, the RemoteSpark team got the best of both worlds: they could leverage the benefits of leading-edge innovations in Windows while also giving their clients the time needed to get familiar with the updates and train workers in the field.

Staying one step ahead

Kognitiv Spark continues to use Insider Preview builds to keep their Remote Spark application up-to-date with the very latest Windows features. That kind of speed and innovation has helped keep business prospects growing across multiple industrial industries, including energy exploration, construction and military operations.

Microsoft has also recognized the company’s innovative work. Kognitiv Spark recently won a 2018 Impact Award from Microsoft Canada. They’ve also joined Microsoft and some of its biggest partners on HoloLens presentations across Canada.

As for their treasure hunting customers back on Oak Island, they too have come out ahead — the group recently announced that they had uncovered a priceless, 500-year-old gemstone brooch near the site. It was the first treasure to be found there in almost 220 years.

SHAPE THE FUTURE OF WINDOWS — BECOME AN INSIDER

PREVIEW THE NEXT EVOLUTION OF WINDOWS