HoloLens testing HoloLens testing Microsoft and NASA engineers test Microsoft's HoloLens goggles and Sideckick software on the "Weightless Wonder" C9 jet, which emulates zero gravity. (Photo: Courtesy of NASA)

NASA to send HoloLens to the International Space Station

Microsoft's augmented reality goggles will virtually assist astronauts.

On Thursday, NASA announced that on June 28, it will send two pairs of Microsoft HoloLens goggles to the International Space Station.

Microsoft unveiled HoloLens in January. The goggles, which are partially developed in Israel, are Microsoft's version of augmented reality glasses, with the idea that you can project holograms into your everyday life. At the heart of the HoloLens is an immersive experience that could revolutionize the way we create, educate, work and interact with others.

In a video demo of the product, Microsoft shows desktop icons projected on a person's wall, a designer superimposing a hologram of a drawing onto a prototype, and an office worker taking a video call as she's walking to the break room for coffee.


HoloLens also allows people to interact with each other from great distances in a much more intimate way than a laptop can allow. This piqued NASA's interested enough to form a partnership with Microsoft to send the headset and the overall Microsoft Sidekick hardware and software package into space.

The goggles will be on a flight launched by Elon Musk's company SpaceX, which has been resupplying the ISS since 2012.

Here's a video of NASA's test of HoloLens and Sidekick in a weightless environment, the "Weightless Wonder" C9 jet that does severe dives in order to emulate zero-gravity. And no, those scruffy guys testing the device aren't astronauts; they're NASA and Microsoft engineers.

According to the space agency, the first trip will just consist of the astronauts on the space station powering the goggles on and making sure everything works in standalone mode. Then, at a later date, a second pair will arrive that will have Sidekick connected to Earth in "Remote Expert Mode," where technicians will be able to see what the astronauts see via Skype, another Microsoft product.

At a certain point, the astronauts will use "Procedure Mode," where people on the ground will be able to project holographic images, like calculations, drawings and pictures, onto whatever the astronaut sees.


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Related Topics: Science, Space