Microsoft's HoloLens headset has been used in a variety of situations, be it drone command, virtual art, or even in the operating room, but one new use could soon put it out of this world. Indeed, according to Fortune Magazine, NASA could soon be using HoloLens to aid in Space Station repairs.
The report shows that the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has come up with an AR system for those on board the International Space Station free up their hands and perform routine maintenance and diagnostic tasks without the need for printed instructions. Called the "EdcAR project" (Engineering data in cross-platform AR,) the AR system is expected to reduce mistakes, speed up the tasks and improve the clarity of the instruction by the use of AR technology. Here is how it's described.
The major benefit is the real-time location of the point requiring maintenance. This information is transmitted to the astronaut's AR glasses explicitly and at the right time by using text, graphics, video, sound etc. The system displays detailed visual instructions on the astronauts' AR glasses, guiding them step by step to perform the necessary procedures in the right order, such as "now press this button", "then turn the lever (B)".The new system also makes the invisible visible by enabling the visualization of telemetry data from equipment and other systems on board the space station, such as fault diagnostics, the latest maintenance data, life cycle, radiation, pressure or temperature – both in space and on the ground. All of this information can be displayed on the AR glasses.
The AR system was already tested with an experienced astronaut in the ISS-Columbus training mock-up at the on-ground European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany. Dating back 2 years, the project is funded by the European Space Agency, and partners included VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Thales Alenia Space, Italy and France, and ICCS in Greece.