Digital technology, an innovation booster

Friday 24 February 2017
Key players in electronics, cybernetics and information technology are constantly on the lookout for new technologies that have potential to drive growth.

Aware that innovation is key to boosting efficiency, Thales has significantly increased its business by capitalising on three major breakthroughs: optimised management of Big Data, increased use of autonomous systems, and virtual tools.

Big Data: security and profitability

Big Data is experiencing exponential growth. Today, Thales not only offers to secure its customers’ data by ensuring the inviolability of the cloud in which it is generally stored, it also promises to improve profitability by analysing and processing data in real-time or by batch. By filtering relevant information from companies' digital systems and then recycling this to create new functions or develop existing missions, Thales can help companies achieve substantial savings and/or significantly increase their turnover.

This is certainly the case for the predictive maintenance sector. By processing the technical data recorded on airliners' systems, it is possible to anticipate potential defects, which saves time when it comes to maintenance thus increasing the number of rotations and improving safety.

Similarly, Thales offers to help airlines determine each user’s In Flight Entertainment (IFE) preferences based on in-cabin data to increase customer loyalty through a customised service. It can also determine how to deal with a passenger whose flight is delayed, the type of compensation they might expect in the event of cancellation, etc.

Autonomy and the human factor

The use of autonomous systems is also a major catalyst for growth. As the European leader in tactical drone systems, Thales is constantly innovating. Developing software that will eventually enable airborne drones to work together in tactical swarms, the Group designs machines that will operate in various environments and which all rely on a host of technological innovations. One such example is AUSS (Autonomous Underwater & Surface System), a submarine drone that is expected to revolutionise naval intelligence thanks to its discrete permanent monitoring. There is also the Stratobus airship, which moves through the stratosphere; this has significant potential in terms of setting up communication networks in areas of digital divide, as well as observing the earth.

Combined with artificial intelligence (AI) mechanisms, such as machine-learning algorithms, these autonomous tools will be capable of further increasing their performance and efficiency. Remaining at the service of humanity: While total autonomy is technically feasible for some missions, it is not acceptable to Thales customers. People must always be kept "in the loop" and remain the ultimate decision-makers.

Immersive Worlds

The use of virtual tools also allows the creation of many new activities such as simulation. This is already widely used for training civilian and military pilots with Thales being one of the key players in this sector. It has many civilian applications too.

The same applies to the use of augmented virtuality. In this field, defence-oriented technologies, such as helmet-mounted displays, can be used in many civilian professions. Because Thales has developed electro-optical instruments that leave no room for error for Mach 2 use, it is also capable of making augmented reality glasses, which receive and display information sent remotely to technicians carrying out maintenance on complex systems far from any external support solutions e.g. in the open sea or deserts.  

Virtual tools, autonomous machines and optimised use of Big Data: Thales is at the forefront of innovation whether working alone or part of the wider entrepreneurial eco-system rich in resources.


Philippe Migault
Centre Européen d’Analyses Stratégiques


Thales's worlds, according to Marko Erman