If you have been following news about Microsoft’s augmented reality headset, then you probably already know that it is being used by astronauts on the International Space Station from last year. The aim was to use the technology within the HoloLens to assist astronauts in exploring the outer space in ways that were impossible previously. NASA has now released footage of that experience which was dubbed Project Sidekick, for the public to view.
The video released is more of an overview and gives us a feel and the knowhow of what Project Sidekick was about. As it explains, the Remote Expert Mode maintains a link between the astronaut who is exploring and a ground operator who sees exactly what the astronaut is seeing right from where he is sitting. This would of course, allow the ground operator to provide guidance and instructions to the astronaut in real-time via not only voice commands but actually drawing into the augmented environment which the two are sharing with the HoloLens. This entire link will be set up with a Skype call.
The Procedure Mode is designed to make space travel easier as it allows animated holograms to illustrate standalone procedures on top of an object when a crew member interacts with it. The potential of the Procedure Mode will be realised the most when it starts cutting down communication delay in-between the crew during deep space missions. If it works like it should, then it will also mean less training for astronauts.
Commander Scott Kelly was the first person to put Project Sidekick to real life use in outer space on February 20, 2016 and after returning to the blue planet, he talked about how they used the HoloLens to their advantage. According to Scimemi, the director of International Space Station, augmented reality may play a big role in the future as astronauts prepare to land on Mars.