When HoloLens was first created, it may not have been directly envisaged as a way for astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) to try out new ideas and for communication, but this has become the latest reality for the virtual reality platform.
Project Sidekick, a project between Microsoft and NASA, allows Astronauts to try out the HoloLens equipment in space. This has actually been going on for a couple of months already, and also in the NEEMO underwater habitat since the summer of 2015. The latter is a useful comparison because it also includes an isolated environmental space and air pressurised doors.
The HoloLens NASA experiment was an initial failure when two HoloLens packs were destroyed during the journey from Earth to the IIS in June 2015. However, a subsequent trip into space in December 2015 safely delivered the HoloLens packs to ISS and Project Sidekick, “Was a GO, Houston.
Sidekick includes Remote Expert Mode which allows an expert on the ground to connect to an astronaut on ISS using Skype. Procedure Mode allows augmented reality with holographic overlays with procedural instructions overlaid for the astronaut to follow precisely.
The implementation of Project Sidekick and HoloLens in space provides proof that the technology has a real world application.