NASA Taps Microsoft For Latest Augmented Reality Tests

NASA has a history with hands-free head-mounted displays. Microsoft’s Hololens will be the latest astronaut test candidate.
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NASA Astronauts are getting one of the first cracks at Microsoft’s Hololens augmented reality headsets.

They’ll test the gadgets aboard the International Space Station as part of Project Sidekick, a program intended to increase task efficiency and reduce training time for astronauts on assignment. (Video via NASA)

Hololens can operate in remote expert mode, which connects a controller on Earth via Skype, who can see what the wearer sees through Hololens’ cameras. (Video via Microsoft)

Or in procedure mode, which uses local instructions and animations. NASA says this mode could be especially useful for long-duration missions away from the planet, where real-time video communication is less feasible. (Video via NASA)

NASA will run another set of Hololens tests during NEEMO expedition 21, aboard the underwater habitat NASA uses to replicate spacelike conditions. (Video via NASA)

If this sounds familiar, it’s because NASA has something of a fixation on augmented reality headsets.

NASA and ESA astronauts have run similar tests on headsets from Osterhout Design Group and on Google Glass. (Video via NASA, European Space Agency)

Glass especially got middling scores: astronaut testers found its portability generally wasn’t enough to outshine the limitations of its tiny display.

Hololens offers a fuller field of view, at least. Testing will begin when two headsets launch aboard SpaceX’s next planned resupply mission to the ISS, on June 28. (Video via SpaceX)

This video includes images from NASA.

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