General Dynamics Mission Systems’ recent donation of some futuristic gear to the Berkshire Innovation Center’s simulation lab is, hopefully, the kind of gift that will keep on giving. As Pittsfield seeks to revitalize its place in the regional economy by building up an attractive hub for tech companies, it’s nice to see a prominent city business sharing some exciting resources within the burgeoning local sector.
In fact, “exciting” might be underselling just how impressive the BIC sim lab’s new equipment is. The 15 new Microsoft HoloLens Commercial Suite mixed reality headsets — with a price tag of $5,000 each — allow users to place holograms within their physical environment. They operate without any wires or connection to a PC or mobile device, and they’re the first fully self-contained holographic computer that runs Windows 10.
The BIC opened its sim lab earlier this year as an explorative space for industry and academic partners to pursue training, education and research, and the applications offered by these headsets are seemingly only limited by the imagination. And imagining can be a great thing. Imagine Berkshire students expressing curiosity in STEM who could now have an unparalleled educational and career path opportunity in their backyards. Imagine regional businesses having access to cutting-edge training and skills assessment on a level that would have seemed fantastical less than a generation ago. Imagine the high-tech bona fides this could give the BIC and Pittsfield as they seek to attract revitalizing economic activity to a post-industrial region that desperately needs it.
The BIC’s opening last year was a milestone for our Berkshire community, a grand first step toward the ambitious and laudable mission of spurring innovation, jobs and investment in the region. Kudos to GDMS for helping that mission along by donating these mixed-reality headsets and giving even more technological heft to the center’s sim lab. Being able to place virtual holograms among real surroundings through the use of an untethered, heads-up and hands-free experience sounds like the future — because it is. Hopefully this spells another step toward a future full of growth and potential for Pittsfield.