NASA uses Hololens to send holographic doctors into space

Star Trek: Voyager, move because we now have real hologram doctors in space! I hope they are a little less dramatic and have a nicer bedside manner. Oh, and they still can’t touch anyone or do anything particularly cool. Other than that, it exists on the ISS, which is actually pretty cool when you think about it.

NASA explains (via space.com) that a medical team was “holoported” from Earth to the ISS. This was done using a Microsoft Hololens Kinect camera and custom software. He uploads and builds high quality 3D models of people so they really look like they are on the space station with the astronauts. I wonder if this is what Microsoft expected from its still, oddly named, Project Natal from over ten years ago.

This is useful for communicating with people over great distances, such as in outer space, while still maintaining some sense of human connection. For people on long-distance missions, this step can bring them closer to home with relative ease. It also allows loved ones to come and visit, in a way.

For now, it looks like a bit of a glorified 3D zoom call that requires a Hololens, but it’s still early days. And even a zoom call is impressive in space. But the next step is to integrate this technology with augmented reality, which could lead to interesting possibilities.

NASA talks about using technology for all sorts of things, like face-to-face medical and psychiatric consultations, family visits, and technical use cases. Being able to have a high quality hologram of the person who designed the ship component you are trying to fix right there with you in space should be helpful.

Especially if they can get a clear view of what you’re doing in real time. It’s one more tool to take more expertise to the stars, or to any other hard-to-reach place, without having to leave your home. Although given the Military are also interested in Hololens equipmentit may not be all about healing and helping.

For sci-fi fans, it might seem a bit like a watered down version of what we all imagine holotechnology to be, but it’s an exciting step along the way on this journey. Maybe they can match it with crazy haptics like these chemicals to help give you a greater sense of touch in the future.

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