NASA has successfully delivered several of Microsoft’s augmented reality headsets, called HoloLens, to the International Space Station (ISS).
“I actually got the opportunity to try [HoloLens] out before I launched,” said Scott Kelly, a flight engineer who has spent 258 days in space, told Popular Science. “It seems like there are certain capabilities that would be good for us onboard the space station.”
HoloLens, which is set to launch to developers in early 2016, is a “mixed reality” headset that can put Windows apps — such as weather or “Halo 5: Guardians” — onto any surrounding.
“Right now we look at the computer or an iPad to look at procedures,” Kelly told the publication. “If you could have a procedure right in your field-of-view, something that was command-able with your voice, you know where you could scroll through the different steps, that would be helpful.”
Crew members currently have to rely on written and voice instructions to carry out tasks and experiments. But the HoloLens would allow ground crew to “draw annotations into the crew member’s environment to coach him or her through a task,” according to NASA.
There is the “capability where somebody on the ground perhaps could be looking basically at what you’re looking at, and be able to write in your field of view,” Kelly explained to Popular Science.
“Let’s say we’re working on a piece of hardware, and we’re not that familiar with it, but we have an expert on the ground, you know that person could basically see what we’re seeing and make annotations, point to things, and kind of lead us through a particular activity.”
You can see NASA and Microsoft engineers testing out HoloLens on the space agency’s Weightless Wonder C9 jet in the video below: