At the Windows 10 event yesterday Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens, a wearable device that traverses beyond the realms of virtual reality into augmented, holographic reality. The demo which Microsoft played at the event floored many, though none are more taken with the tech than NASA, who believe that it will allow them to learn more about the planet Mars in ways that have never before been possible.
The demo shown during the event featured a snippet of footage showing a man using the HoloLens to walk across a virtual recreation of the surface of Mars, and while it may have looked too good to be true, NASA appears to be confident in Microsoft’s ability. The HoloLens will use its OnSight software in order to help scientists “work virtually on Mars,” and NASA couldn’t be happier.
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Speaking of the HoloLens Dave Lavery, NASA’s program executive for the Mars Science Laboratory mission, said: “OnSight gives our rover scientists the ability to walk around and explore Mars right from their offices,” “It fundamentally changes our perception of Mars, and how we understand the Mars environment surrounding the rover.”
He added: “It fundamentally changes our perception of Mars, and how we understand the Mars environment surrounding the rover.”
The HoloLens will allow scientists to perform “field work” on Mars.
OnSight was developed by Microsoft in partnership with NASA, with it being created in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. It will allow scientists to explore the surface around the Mars rover, the automated motor vehicle that is currently being used to explore the surface of the planet. The software will combine a mixture of holographs and real world imagery to allow a greater sense of depth than current 3D stereo views allow, meaning that NASA’s job will be made much easier when it comes to continuing their work on the planet.
Jeff Norris, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s OnSight project manager, said: “We believe OnSight will enhance the ways in which we explore Mars and share that journey of exploration with the world.
“Previously, our Mars explorers have been stuck on one side of a computer screen. This tool gives them the ability to explore the rover’s surroundings much as an Earth geologist would do field work here on our planet.”
JPL is planning to work with the HoloLens in the Mars Curiosity mission later this year, while future applications of the tech could see it being used during the Mars 2020 rover operations.