Meet the Insiders supporting a high-tech hunt for hidden pirate treasure

Kognitiv Spark employee using Hololense.

This story actually starts over 200 years ago on a small island off Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1799, a deep, multi-level shaft was found on the shores of Oak Island, a known hideout for pirates. More digging uncovered a mysterious stone tablet that hinted at riches below. That tablet would inspire treasure hunters, including President Roosevelt and other famous investors, for hundreds of years.

Fast forward to 2018. Two brothers from Michigan launched the largest Oak Island dig yet. To help with the dig, the latest treasure hunters hired Irving Equipment Limited, a national heavy lift, specialized transport, and deep foundations service provider. Irving Equipment then connected with Kognitiv Spark, a Windows mixed reality developer, for innovative planning support.

Data from drone surveys of  Oak Island were fed into Irving Equipment’s 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 tune their approach.

The version of RemoteSpark that was used to create that 3D hologram has recently been updated with the help of Windows 10 Insider Preview Builds. And as it turns out, it gave them an important head start.

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 good 2D view on Windows 10 devices. “RemoteSpark is used to transmit extremely complex visualizations between teams, and we needed to make the 2D view more dynamic,” said 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,” he said.

The only problem was timing. The team had first learned about the Fluent Design update at Microsoft Build, but it would be months before the update would be available publicly. That’s where Windows 10 Insider Preview builds came in.

“What we saw with Insider Preview builds on the PC is what we’d see on the HoloLens. So, we were able to build prototypes with the new Fluent Design and get our updates done even before the HoloLens preview bits were available, » Ryan said. « Working with Insider Preview builds gave our developers a six-week head start. 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 make the most of cutting-edge innovations in Windows, while also giving their clients the time they 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 in giving 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.