Don’t get me wrong, playing Minecraft and watching television in augmented reality is really freaking cool, but that’s just the bare minimum of what Microsoft’s HoloLens goggles are capable of. If you want to see its true potential, just look at Project Sidekick, the new collaboration between Microsoft and NASA that’s bringing HoloLens to the International Space Station. The astronauts aboard the ISS will spend a few months testing HoloLens in the hopes that it could be used to make astronauts more productive and reduce training requirements.
Forget virtual Minecraft castles levitating on tabletops or virtual TVs floating in midair. NASA is taking Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented-reality goggles to space, for the purpose for which they were originally designed: as a tool. On June 28, NASA will launch Project Sidekick, a program that will launch a pair of Microsoft HoloLens goggles to the International Space Station as part of a scheduled resupply mission. HoloLens will be part of a test to determine whether augmented reality and virtual reality devices can assist astronauts in outer space. “HoloLens and other virtual and mixed reality devices are cutting edge technologies that could help drive future exploration and provide new capabilities to the men and women conducting critical science on the International Space Station,” said Sam Scimemi, director of the ISS program at NASA Headquarters in Washington, in a statement. “This new technology could also empower future explorers requiring greater autonomy on the journey to Mars.” What’s more, the way in which the astronauts will use HoloLens sounds exactly like the way in which Microsoft showed the headset originally being used—which few have really experienced, until now.