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Mixed Reality Bridges Gap Between Aircraft and Classroom

Western Michigan University is using HoloLens for aviation education.

For students learning about the intricacies of aircraft, whether it is to pilot them or to build and repair them, simulator technology is nothing new. However, educators are now discovering that mixed reality (MR) technology can open up entirely new possibilities.

Microsoft have teamed up with Western Michigan University in order to begin integrating MR technology such as the Microsoft HoloLens into aviation education.


Professor Lori Brown, an associate professor of aviation at WMU is among the first to test out how the HoloLens can improve the education her students receive. Professor Brown was a clear choice, due to her previous work researching the ways that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology could be used in an educational setting.

In the past 16 years that I’ve been teaching advanced aircraft systems, I have identified many gaps in the tools and equipment available to me as a professor. Ultimately, mixed reality bridges the gap between simulation, the aircraft and the classroom,” Brown told University publication WMU News.

Presently, the HoloLens is being used in two ways. The HoloLens has been integrated into the WMU CRJ-200 flight simulator, and a new simulation is being designed that will hel pilots prepare for various changes in weather.

Another application for the HoloLens technology is JetXplore, an interactive MR application that allows students to explore the various components of a plane.

I wanted my students to be able to see inside and interact with aircraft components such as a turbofan engine,” says Brown. “When I saw that the medical community was using HoloLens to allow students to see inside the human body, I realized that HoloLens could augment my lab. The ability to see inside an engine is similar to seeing the bones of a human body.”


Professor Brown has ambitions to develop the MR simulation technology much further, even creating a full airport for students to explore.

With the HoloLens, students are able to see inside the jet engine while also interacting with the engine components and full flight deck. They’re developing muscle memory, which increases retention.”

Further news on new applications for immersive technologies will be reported on right here on VRFocus.

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