Microsoft's Amazing HoloLens Already Has NASA Signing Up For 'Work On Mars'

Join Curiosity on Mars. Picture: JPL/NASA

Microsoft previewed Windows 10 this morning, but everyone’s talking about HoloLens.

HoloLens is an augmented reality device which Microsoft has reportedly been working on in secret for five years. The headset superimposes CGI elements over the real world in front of you and lets you interact with them.

The applications potential is huge. Microsoft this morning showed a video highlighting how HoloLens could start wiping out the need for actual button and switches around our homes:

Minecraft on the coffee table, anyone?

BI’s Matt Rosoff was given the chance to be guided through installing a light switch and he succeeded in five minutes.

(This is a screenshot from the press kit. Rosoff’s demo was in a super secret lab, no recording devices allowed.)

But perhaps the most impressive part about Microsoft’s surprise reveal was the fact that it already has real-world partnership in place with a big player – NASA.

The two companies have teamed up to develop OnSight, software which will help NASA’s scientists work virtually on Mars.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, has sneakily been developing OnSight for use with HoloLens and JPL’s Mars Curiosity Rover.

Team members wearing HoloLens can utilise data sent back from Curiosity to overlay the Martian landscape right into their lab space, then examine and interact with it as if they were on the planet themselves.

Rosoff was also given a demonstration of how that worked.

The surface of Mars unfolded before me. I moved my head to move the cursor around, then moved my finger to select specific spots. Then we could apply scientific analyses to these spots. We could also walk right up to them, crouch down for a closer look, and so on.

“It fundamentally changes our perception of Mars, and how we understand the Mars environment surrounding the rover,” Dave Lavery, program executive for the Mars Science Laboratory mission said.

JPL plans to begin testing OnSight in Curiosity mission operations later this year.

Hopefully, anyone else with a HoloLens will get the same access to Curiosity data, and we can all start exploring the Red Planet.

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