Microsoft's augmented realty device, Hololens, has grabbed the attention of consumers around the world and now NASA is about send two of the devices up to the space station. The two organizations are working on a project called 'Sidekick' to use the technology to allow astronauts to work more efficiently at the International Space station.
The idea is quite simple, currently, an astronaut has to rely on written and voice instructions when receiving help from NASA back on Earth. With Hololens, the astronaut can wear the headset and receive instructions from back home with holograms appearing in front of them to complete a task, which requires no interpretation, unlike the currently used notes setup.
Microsoft has already shown off this idea and when we first got to demo Hololens back in January; we used Skype as the medium for having someone help us repair a drain pipe. Microsoft and NASA are going to use this same style of setup to help astronauts in space which gives them the benefit of not having to carry paper to compete a task. More so, with an additional set of eyes watching the task being completed, NASA will have greater insight into the process along with the ability to help out.
Not only does this give NASA a new tool to help out once a astronaut is in space, they believe it will also reduce the amount of time to train new astronauts as well.
The Hololens will have two modes when it arrives at the space station; Remote Expert mode and Procedure mode. The Remote Expert mode uses Skype to provide real-time guidance and draw annotations with holograms and the Procedure mode augments standalone tasks with holograms on top of the objects with which the crew is interacting.
This collaboration between NASA and Microsoft will be an important step for Hololens as Microsoft works to show that the device has real-world testing under its belt and that it truly is a tool for productivity.