Astronaut Scott Kelly (seen in pic) and his colleagues stationed on the International Space Station now have a new Sidekick. The project is a collaboration between NASA and Microsoft aimed to help with astronaut duties, like repairs, experiments or space walks, using an out of this world augment reality device called the HoloLens.
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) February 20, 2016
ZME Science previously reported on how the HoleLens works and what’s it useful for. So, I’ll just mention that the HoloLens delivers everything that the virtual reality industry has falsely advertised for the past two decades: immersive and interactive augmented reality. This is the real deal!
With a headset on, astronauts could see the inner workings of a telescope or instrument as if they had X-ray vision. An expert on ground who shares the same view as an astronaut could provide better and more accurate instructions. This remote sidekick could also draw or call animations visible in the astronaut’s view, superimposed on real objects or in a whole new virtual plane. Pre-HoloLens, astronauts could only rely on verbal or written instructions to carry out complicated repairs or experiments.
The HoloLens will also prove very useful during astronaut training. Cadets could immerse themselves in the ISS experience, but also that of Mars some day.
Last year NASA tested the device on its Weightless Wonder C9 jet. The first HoloLens headsets were supposed to arrive last last year, but a SpaceX rocket tasked with delivering the cargo exploded in mid-air.
There’s not much word yet on how Kelly or other astronauts are using the device, but I have a feeling we’ll find out more soon. For the rest of us mortals, the HoloLens will supposedly cost $3,000 once it’s out publicly.