HoloLens is no more limited to usage on the earth, the virtual reality device is being sent to the space too. A SpaceX Dragon, which is scheduled to take off tomorrow with cargo and supplies for the International Space Station will be taking along two of Microsoft’s HoleLenses. These augmented reality devices are going to be a part of NASA’s space project rumored as — Sidekick.
The project Sidekick aims to provide virtual reality benefits to the astronauts at ISS, which in turn will reduce the training time and make tasks more effective and efficient. NASA’s Sam Scimemi, said in a statement, “Lens and other virtual and mixed reality devices are cutting edge technologies that could help drive future exploration and provide new capabilities to the men and women conducting critical science on the International Space Station. This new technology could also empower future explorers requiring greater autonomy on the journey to Mars.”
There are two ways in which Sidekick will be operating, the first one will be the “Remote Expert Mode,” which will be connecting an astronaut to the ground expert through Skype. This will allow the ground expert to enlighten the astronaut about a procedure and the expert can also draw figures while explaining and these figures can be viewed by the astronaut in real-time while going through the task.
The other way for the operation of project Sidekick is, “Procedure Mode” which aims at displaying holographic animations to the astronaut in real-time. These real-time animations would speed up astronaut’s work when working on a new task. In this manner, astronauts will save more time on station and can do other tasks as well. The Sidekick has run a successful test on zero-g flights. The first set of HoloLens will be used for testing the “Procedure Mode” of the Sidekick project while the other set of HoloLens will be sent soon for testing the network capability “Remote Expert Mode”.
This will not be the only project where Microsoft and NASA will work together, another project dubbed as “OnSight” is also on the schedule for the two to work again. The OnSight project is aimed at utilizing the holographic computing technology to allow scientists to work with Mars rovers in real-time projects, it will enable NASA to virtually explore Mars before sending a team of astronauts. This is not the first time that NASA is including virtual reality devices in its projects, in march the agency announced that it was working with Osterhout Design Group in order to include their variant of virtual reality glasses in space projects.