One industry domain in which technology developed by Thales has already had a major influence is aviation. The company has supplied its TopOwl
AR helmets to military helicopter and fighter pilots for more than 20 years, but up until now the only AR assistance civil pilots had access to was the head up display system on the aircraft’s windshield. That’s why Thales has developed TopMax – a head worn device designed specifically to meet the demands of civil aviation that displays information according to the pilot’s head movements and provides vital assistance during take-off and landings. TopMax has proven to be such a hit with pilots that Thales is already exploring how it might also be used for air traffic management or the control of trains.
Another area where AR has really made its mark is in the marketing field. In the Netherlands, Thales’ sales and marketing teams in Above Water Systems wanted to come up with a marketing tool targeted at clients in the naval sector that reflected the company’s progressive technological outlook while promoting and explaining some of the complex technologies and service concepts that Thales offers. The solution to this conundrum was an AR tablet application called the Thales Naval App (www.thalesgroup.com/nl/app).
When the camera lens of a tablet fitted with the app is pointed at a specific recognisable marker – a digital 3D representation of the Thales solution appears on the device’s screen, as it would appear in the real world. A marker that looks like seawater can be printed on a brochure, leaflet or business card, for example. “It stimulates the audiences to keep the printed media for a longer time than they would normally because the marker is their access to a new and interesting way to see says Jeroen van der Wel, innovation manager for Thales in the Netherlands. Since the app launched it’s been a tremendous success and provided a valuable analytical insight, according to van der Wel, who says that more than 3,000 users have downloaded the app on iPads and Android tablets in 74 countries worldwide. It is expected to reach even more users when a smartphone version is released.
“The first time people download the app, they use it for approximately 10 to 20 minutes, but more than 50% have accessed it more than five times,” says van der Wel.
“We also know that it has been adopted by different layers in customer organisations, from operational departments to maintenance and asset management. It is also being used by Thales as a recruitment tool at exhibitions to demonstrate the company’s innovation.” He adds that the app, which has also been used by Thales in the UK to great success, will continue to evolve with Thales Underwater Systems
currently developing additional functionality that will allow it to offer more ‘hero’ products and services to customers.