Microsoft's HoloLens is about to rack up some serious frequent flier miles on Japan Airlines.
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At Microsoft's partner conference on Monday, the airline announced it is using the augmented-reality headset as part of two proof-of concept programs, one of which will provide supplemental training for engine mechanics and another for flight crew trainees who want to be promoted to co-pilots.
Until now, flight crew trainees have relied on videos and printouts of cockpit panel instruments and switches. Now, the airline is using HoloLens to bring those lessons to life, and help covert "intellectual memory to muscle memory," according to Koji Hayamizu, senior director of the planning group for Japan Airlines' products and service administration department.
For the uninitiated, HoloLens overlays 3D holographic content on the physical world. With HoloLens, trainees can interact with a detailed hologram displaying cockpit devices and switches to get more hands-on experience while learning about operational procedures.
Meanwhile, mechanics can tinker around with virtual engines and parts, "just as if they were working on the actual engine or cockpit," Hayamizu added. In the past, getting hands-on training often meant waiting for a plane to come into the hangar for maintenance. Now, "mechanics can learn an engine structure by extracting important parts with the simulation," whenever they want.
"We believe that HoloLens can contribute to the safety of our business, which is the most important criteria for airlines," Hayamizu said.
Japan Airlines is following in the footsteps of another organization using HoloLens for training: NASA. Astronauts Scott Kelly and Tim Peake recently received the headset to play around with at the International Space Station as part of an effort to explore the possibilities of holographic computing in space. NASA says the new technology could potentially reduce crew training requirements and increase astronauts' efficiency in space.