NASA Showcases Augmented Reality Tech in Space By Making a Skype Call

Back in November, we reported that Microsoft was sending a couple of its HoloLens augmented reality headsets up to the International Space Station, and a new video from NASA allows us to see them in action. The device simply screams its potential in that kind of environment, but for all that, we mainly get to see Scott Kelly lounging around on and making the first Skype call to Earth from space on February 20.


Not exactly the flashy stuff of modern science fiction, but it shows the tech is largely working as intended. The HoloLens is the key component of NASA and Microsoft’s Project Sidekick, which, in the words of project chief Jeff Norris, empowers „astronauts on the ISS with assistance when and where they need it.“ Unlike virtual reality headsets, which largely shut users off from the outside world, augmented reality devices like the HoloLens enhance what we see in the physical world with overlays and similar holographic projections.

Kelly’s anticlimactic Skype call, in fact, demonstrates the effectiveness of Sidekick’s „Remote Expert Mode,“ which allows teams on the ground to directly help an astronaut repair the ISS rather than having to rely on mere written or spoken instructions. With the HoloLens and Skype (itself a Microsoft property), the experts in question can circle objects and make annotations within the astronaut’s field of view.

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