The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Kognitiv Spark, the Fredericton maker of augmented reality software, will jointly fund a new augmented reality lab at the University of New Brunswick.

Dubbed the Spatial Computing Education, Training & Research Laboratory, or SPECTRAL, the lab will collaborate with private sector players in the aerospace industry on research and development work, with a particular focus on digitizing their supply chains.

SPECTRAL will also offer training programs for workers in the field of spacial computing — industry jargon for augmented reality in which digital elements appear to interact with real-world objects.

“Today’s announcement is truly exciting and will have a positive impact across not just the Atlantic region, but Canada and the wider aerospace industry,” said Kognitiv Spark COO Duncan McSporran in a statement.

“This is the next step in a collaboration that highlights some of the amazing opportunities for technical and academic leadership in Spatial Computing that exist here in New Brunswick.”

Kognitiv Spark is spending $150,000 to fund SPECTRAL, along with $410,000 of in-kind contributions, and ACOA is spending $823,125.

Founded in 2016, Kognitiv Spark uses augmented reality and mixed reality to help remote workers use complicated equipment. If a worker needs instructions or to perform repairs, a supervisor in a main office can use augmented reality to guide their activities.

When a worker calls for help, the software connects them with a remote expert via a live stream of the worker’s point of view. The expert can share PDF documents, 3D images and animations in real-time, and both people can annotate images during the call.

The company says its product offering boasts three advantages over competitors: it is the only commercially available software that allows the real-time sharing of 3D data; it can maintain a stable video connection even with limited bandwidth; and its security is “defence grade.”

Last year, CEO Yan Simard and his team, which then included 26 people, raised $4.7 million from London-based Foresight Group and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation as Kognitiv Spark looked to expand its push into the British and American markets.