NASA has announced that it plans to investigate the use of smart glasses in space, for virtual reality and augmented reality applications during human spaceflight — to help with flight operations, repairs or other technical tasks.
In a collaboration with the Osterhout Design Group, which makes the smart glasses pictured above, NASA will investigate how the glasses could be use by its astronauts. In a press release, the pair describe that the glasses will initially tested for assisted reality applications, which might include "line of sight check lists, guided support via telepresence, and the ability to overlay digital markers on machinery or equipment while keeping the user's eyes and hands focused on their task." It's hoped such advances could help improve the efficiency of in-flight activities and help make difficult ones a little easier.
"As electronic directions and instructions replace paper checklists and longer duration missions are considered, there is a need for tools that can meet evolving demands," explained Lauri Hansen, Engineering Director at NASA Johnson Space Center, in the press release. "ODG's technology provides an opportunity to increase space mission efficiencies and we are pleased to explore its potential in human spaceflight while also advancing its use here on earth." Certainly, they will be using some fairly impressive hardware. As we've reported before about the ODG glasses that will be used in the collaboration:
The ODG Smart Glasses are basically a full Android tablet you can wear on your head, with a high-end Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 chip. Only instead of a touchscreen, you get a transparent heads-up display: the equivalent of a 55-inch 3D screen floating eight feet in front of your face. With a pair of 720p microdisplays, you could use it as your own private 3D movie theatre like a Sony HMZ headset, but without any of the cords. Or, with its 5-megapixel camera and boatload of sensors, use it for whatever augmented reality applications developers might dream up.
Exactly what will eventually happen when a team of NASA engineers get that hands on a device like this remains to be seen. But it sounds like, whatever it is, it might come to fruition pretty soon. [ODG via Bloomberg via Engadget]