Smart glasses could soon be standard equipment for NASA astronauts.
The Osterhout Design Group (ODG) announced a new agreement with the national space agency that will provide astronauts with the electronic devices for training purposes, as well as for their time in space.
The smart glasses produce 3D images that provide a wide range of information to space travelers. The devices are capable of recording and monitoring the position, attitude and movement of astronauts as they go about activities, including spacewalks.
"As electronic directions and instructions replace paper checklists and longer duration missions are considered, there is a need for tools that can meet evolving demands. ODG's technology provides an opportunity to increase space mission efficiencies and we are pleased to explore its potential in human spaceflight while also advancing its use here on Earth," Lauri Hansen, engineering director for NASA, said.
The electronic glasses could assist space travelers in carrying out repairs, as well as other operations aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and other future missions.
"Our sixth-generation Smart Glasses are the first to be made available to a broader customer set. Features ODG's military-grade technology, 3D optics, and is also untethered for the ultimate hands-free experience. Stunning 3D stereoscopic see-thru HD displays. Runs our custom ReticleOS operating system atop Android Jelly Bean," ODG management reported on its Web site.
The glasses will provide astronauts with the ability to overlay digital markers on images of equipment, in order to record progress made during repairs, or remind the space traveler not to remove certain pieces. An electronic checklist will also be available in the glasses, so that astronauts can track their activities without needing to use their hands.
The smart glasses from ODG have capabilities similar to a full Android tablet, and the display seen by users is equivalent to a 55 inch screen set eight feet away. The two displays are capable of displaying 3D images. A five-megapixel camera can take pictures that can be sent to controllers on the ground, or to other astronauts inside the spacecraft.
The manufacturer has spent six years developing the glasses, putting $60 million into research on the devices. Engineers at NASA have also worked on creating their own smart glasses, but have recently decided to seek out commercial developers for the devices.
Officials from NASA hope that the glasses will make activities in space, including carrying out repairs during extra-vehicular activities (EVA's) more efficient, as well as safer, for astronauts. Space travelers could be wearing smart glasses on future missions, traveling to an asteroid, as well as during a human mission to Mars.