At Austin Startup Week 2019, some of our brightest minds showcased our biggest ideas, including those around cross reality (XR)*—which blends augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)—and defense innovation.
Booz Allen is no stranger to Austin. We’ve fostered future-focused conversations at SXSW year after year, and our Austin Innovation Hub at the Capital Factory allows us to connect our mission-driven work with the latest innovations the industry has to offer.
In case you missed it, here are some of our key takeaways:
If you want to work in XR, now is the time to get involved—especially in the defense industry.
XR is in high demand across the defense industry. They’re seen as smart investments for training that can travel wherever needed. On a panel discussing tips for VR startups, Mike Wikan, creative director of our innovative XR work, said that right now is like the “Wild West.” It’s the best time to get involved in the industry, especially with companies like Booz Allen that are doing this type of work with defense agencies. While XR is typically associated with consumer entertainment, Mike predicted that in the next 5 years or so, 80 percent of XR work will be for government or industry clients.
Show—don’t tell—your clients the value that VR can have.
Defense clients are increasingly recognizing the value AI can provide, particularly for training soldiers in lifelike scenarios without the same level of risk. However, they don’t always fully understand the scope of what’s possible. Mike recommended that practitioners “shorten the route between what they need and what you’re creating.” He recounted how his team once created a VR experience using footage of a real training location. After defense leaders saw a short demo of this experience, they understood its value in preparing soldiers for combat.
The convergence of XR and artificial intelligence (AI) is a two-way street; both add value to each other.
In his presentation, Cameron Kruse, a technical product manager, discussed how XR and AI contribute to each other’s development. For example, machine learning systems can learn how to create 3D objects autonomously—saving creators time and money in creating 3D objects, while immersive reality can help AI become smarter. Instead of using hundreds of photos to teach a machine learning system what a helicopter is, for example, 3D simulations of a helicopter can generate thousands of “photos” in a shorter amount of time. Uses like this could be valuable as new technologies like those found in self-driving cars become more pervasive.
Continuous innovation is key to a shifting defense landscape.
In a discussion with co-panelist General John M. Murray of the U.S. Army Futures Command, Booz Allen's Global Defense Sector President Karen Dahut discussed how the Department of Defense is readily adapting to the rapidly shifting landscape of strategic warfare. Karen remarked on the importance of Booz Allen’s culture of continuous innovation in serving defense clients. In addition, she discussed why open, yet secure architectures give clients full control to quickly and easily integrate the best emerging technology on the market and be ready in a volatile, multidomain battlefield. In discussing the future battlefield, Cameron Mayer, a leader in our defense business, emphasized that AI can help soldiers make decisions quicker and faster in high-stakes situations.
When technology and government intersect, the opportunities are endless. Explore Booz Allen’s innovation journey further here and stay tuned for what we’ll unfold at SXSW 2020.
*Booz Allen was an official sponsor of the XR Programming Track of Austin Startup Week 2019