Usually, it’s hard to have company when living aboard the International Space Station (ISS). But thanks to Microsoft’s technology, astronauts can have visitors at any time, at least virtual visitors. Microsoft technology was used to “holoport” humans to the ISS in October 2021 (via Space.com). A HoloLens Kinect camera was used to record a group in 3D and then project their likenesses through a HoloLens headset worn by astronauts on the space station.
NASA flight surgeon Dr. Josef Schmid, AEXA Aerospace CEO Fernando De La Pena Llaca and their respective teams were the first people to be holoported from Earth into space.
To make the process work, the Hololens camera and headset were used in conjunction with custom software from Aexa. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet was able to hold a conversation with Schmid and De La Pena while the latter two appeared virtually as holograms.
“This is an entirely new mode of human communication across vast distances,” Schmid said. “Also, it’s a whole new way to explore the human, where our human entity is able to travel off-planet. Our physical body is not there, but our human entity is absolutely there.”
Schmid pointed out that the setup does not require people to be stationary. In fact, a ship can travel several times the speed of sound and still receive holoportation signals.
“It doesn’t matter if the space station is moving at 17,500 mph and in constant motion in orbit 250 miles above Earth, the astronaut can come back three minutes or three weeks later and with the system running, we we’ll be there, living on the space station,” Schmid explained.
This is another example of science fiction brought to life. Holograms have been used to communicate across space in various shows and movies, such as Stargate, Star Wars, and Star Trek. Microsoft’s implementation of having a headset projecting images onto a screen is a little different from what’s usually shown in cinemas, but it seems to be effective.
Microsoft is heavily involved in space exploration and experimentation. The company has partnered with NASA, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and several other aerospace organizations. Microsoft’s work includes scanning astronaut equipment for damage and enhancing satellite imagery with AI.
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