We have seen the Oculus Rift used for more immersive gaming experiences, and while the Kinect was designed for gaming in mind, it has also managed to find use in non-gaming environments, which is why it is no surprise to find that NASA has managed to find a way to use both the Oculus Rift and the Kinect to control the robots that they send into space. While remotely controlling robots from Earth is definitely not new, by using the Oculus Rift and the Kinect, it allows NASA to control their robots to an even greater degree, not to mention the immersive experience provided by the Oculus Rift headset might make it seem like they are right there in space themselves.
This project was put together by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with their engineers stating that this setup has to be the most immersive interface that they have yet to build. While the engineers have experimented with the original Kinect, it was the Kinect 2’s improved accuracy and ability to detect finger and wrist positions that helped provide them with a greater degree of accuracy and control. According to Human Interfaces Engineer, Victor Luo, “Imagine…how inspirational it would be for a 7-year old to control a space robot with the tools h’s already familiar with!” If you have a minute or two to spare, you can check out the demonstration in the video above.