In early 2021, with grant support from the Mass Development Collaborative Workspace program, the Berkshire Innovation Center (BIC) launched an Augmented/Virtual and Mixed Reality Simulation (Sim) Lab in a dedicated space at its Pittsfield, Massachusetts facility. The lab seeks to provide industry and academic partners the ability to explore and develop applications for skills assessment, employee training, student education and applied research in augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies in areas including plastics molding, rapid prototyping, medical device manufacturing, safety training, additive manufacturing, robotics, construction, aerospace and defense engineering.
Today, in further support of the project, General Dynamics Mission Systems (GDMS) donated 15 brand new Microsoft HoloLens Commercial Suite (1st Generation) mixed reality headsets, valued at $5,000 per set. These headsets are the first fully self-contained holographic computer running Windows 10. They are completely untethered – no wires, phones, or connection to a PC is needed. They allow you to place holograms in your physical environment, allowing a heads up and hands-free user experience.
AR, MR and VR simulations have proven to help businesses operate in a more efficient, safe manner with less cost as it relates to machine maintenance and repair, product design and prototyping, virtual conferences and trade shows, facilities management, safety training, and step-by-step task guidance for training employees. The technology is also a fantastic way to engage students and expose them to the work of the future.
“The application of this technology was advancing quickly prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pace has accelerated rapidly as more and more organizations turn to it to adapt and thrive. The lab, and this unbelievably generous donation from GDMS, will help bring this revolutionary technology to companies and educational partners in Berkshire County,” said BIC Executive Director Ben Sosne. “We are extremely grateful and look forward to working with GDMS and our other partners to grow our capabilities and share expertise.”