NASA’s Jet Propulsion labs shows off HoloLens at Vision Summit 2016

Laurent Giret

NASA is a big believer in virtual reality technology, as it’s already working on use cases that can help astronauts to accomplish their difficult tasks. In fact, the space agency already partnered with Microsoft to ship a pair of Hololens devices to the International Space Station (ISS) to be used as an experimental tool for the astronauts aboard.

We also already knew that NASA is currently developing Project Sidekick, an application that relies on Hololens to help astronauts in different scenarios: first, a remote expert mode that would allow ground control teams to see through astronaut’s eyes and help them carrying out their tasks by drawing annotations in their vision field. Another use case is procedure mode, which would provide station crews augmented instruction manuals with animated holograms.

But during the recent Vision Summit 2016 presentation, the leader of mission control innovation for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Jeff Norris, explained how Project Sidekick could also provide virtual support to spacecraft designers by displaying full-scale holograms of spacecrafts with all of their individual components:

It’s a little like a 3D print button for a CAD tool, only we can print these designs at any scale, and keep them up to date with the evolving designs of our spacecrafts. We’re very excited by what this kind of technology is going to do to allow us to reduce the risk and cost of our missions in the future.

Watch the video below to see it in action:

It’s very interesting to see how Hololens makes it possible to bring spacecraft designs out of CAD tools to the real world, and Norris added that NASA is already using this technology on 3 new missions in its Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This is just another in a long list of examples that Microsoft is using to demonstrate the value of HoloLens augmented reality.