If you’d told my 10-year-old self that a private space company would blast some holographic virtual reality googles to the International Space Station one day, my young head would have exploded. Well, that day has come. The hologram-powered, VR-enabled future of space exploration has arrived.
Microsoft and NASA just announced a new joint effort called Sidekick that will empower astronauts in space to use the company’s future goggles. On June 28, two HoloLens devices will ride a SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station (ISS), where astronauts are eagerly awaiting the ability to work in three-dimensional, holographic environments. For starters, the station crew will use two modes of operation: remote expert mode and procedure mode.
Both modes essentially provide astronauts with better, more interactive guidance when performing tasks in space. As the name implies, remote expert mode enables on astronaut to see what another crew member is doing and to provide real-time guidance in their environment by drawing 3D shapes and instructions. This is a big leap forward since, currently, astronauts pretty much help each other by talking on radios. Procedure mode sounds like the same sort of thing, except it uses preprogrammed sets of instructions with holograms.
NASA’s vision for the HoloLens technology is more ambitious than tricked out instruction manuals though. We learned a few months ago that the space agency would use the holographic goggles to explore Mars, well before any human sets foot on the Red Planet. Just imagine what could be possible as we send more spacecraft up into the heavens. Imagine using HoloLens to explore caves on the moon in search of a future habitat.
It’s all plausible right now, thanks in part to Microsoft’s goggle tech. That company just can’t stop turning it the fuck around.