Microsoft and NASA have teamed up to send out a pair of HoloLens devices to the International Space Station (ISS) as a part of the next commercial resupply mission. If you remember, an earlier attempt to send HoloLens into space unfortunately failed when the unmanned SpaceX rocket, carrying among other things two HoloLenses, exploded shortly after lift-off.
This time, the HoloLens will be used as an experimental tool for the astronauts aboard the Space Station, and NASA and Microsoft teamed up to write a “holographic instruction manual” to be used by scientists on board, augmenting old-school manuals by placing animated holographic images on top of whatever they’re working on.
HoloLens offers two different modes to help the astronauts at the ISS, including a remote expert mode and procedure mode. In the remote expert mode, the ground control teams will be able to see what’s happen through astronaut’s eyes. They can draw annotations and guide the astronauts on which buttons to push, etc. while they communicating with them through Skype. This way, the astronauts can directly connect to scientists and experts and carry out the research experiments.
Procedure Mode is basically an instruction manual. Previously, the space crew had to rely on paper manuals to get things done, which were later replaced by laptops and tablets. HoleLens takes the things a step forward by placing animated holograms on top of what the astronaut is working on so he can see the instructions right away.
Both Microsoft and NASA spent valuable time on making sure the HoloLens doesn’t cause any issues for the astronauts in outer space. The holograms created in the space do not flicker, allowing users to easily see them without any issues, similar to the way they would see them in the real world. To test this, several experiments were conducted in microgravity to make sure the product will survive when it goes to the International Space Station.
This will definitely help NASA, and can be extremely valuable for the astronauts in the space. This is just a start.