The sky was not the limit for Microsoft’s HoloLens, as the enhanced reality glasses have made it on a NASA spaceship heading straight to the International Space Station (ISS).
Dubbed “Sidekick,” NASA’s and Microsoft’s collaboration is intended to offer virtual support for astronauts. Microsoft is already known for developing and projecting holographic images, and HoloLens is the crown of their initiatives.
With the help of HoloLens, Earth-based experts are able to offer better guidance to astronauts via Microsoft’s Skype service. The intended result is performing more reliable and effective space explorations.
The augmented reality glasses also have the advantage of making any other forms of instruction – written or recorded – redundant, which is also easier for the astronauts “working off the Earth, for the Earth.”
According to the statement given by the space agency, Sidekick – a successful partnership between the U.S. tech giant and NASA – is expected to significantly ease the communications between Earth and ISS and provide an immeasurable virtual aid for astronauts.
During product presentation, Microsoft showed off the impressive way in which HoloLens can project holographic images on top of the surrounding environment, allowing the user to interact and alter the projected images.
One of the space applications of HoloLens will be enabling astronauts to receive instant real-time advice on resolving issues. HoloLens will offer the ground experts a view into exactly what’s happening out there via Skype, which is also owned by Microsoft.
What’s even more helpful is that the expert here on Earth can also “write” notes or “draw” onto the environment surrounding the crew member using the HoloLens, making task-completion – such as complex repairs or experiments – a much easier feat.
Before Sidekick, astronauts had to rely heavily on voice instruction and written notes on the tasks they needed to perform. However, this is not even the most useful space application.
HoloLens has another potential use: reducing the training that crews need before going to space by offering step-by-step instructions and illustrations via projected animated holograms. Following the interacting principle integrated in HoloLens, the crew will have an easier task understanding the instructions that come from ground experts.
NASA’s experts are excited by the possibilities that come with HoloLens, saying that this “could be an invaluable resource for operations deep into our solar system,” where difficult missions are often turned down because of the complications that come from faulty communication.
Sam Scimemi, head of NASA’s ISS program, is positive HoloLens could also have a great impact on the future Mars missions, where explorers would have to be even more autonomous. For now, two HoloLens devices are scheduled to leave Earth on June 28 on board of a commercial resupply mission.
Image Source: IGN Africa