In a recent interview on Bloomberg TV, Osterhout Design Group stated that it is working with NASA on the development of an augmented reality hardware platform. This platform will be used to not only support operations on earth, but also ultimately in space.
In the interview, Pete Jameson, COO of the Osterhout Design Group explains that the company has been chosen by NASA after an extensive test period by NASA to identify the best partner for its program. While the first use of the device will be for tasks like assembling parts for space use, the key for NASA is the performance of the headset. The headset will be tested in an underwater NASA training facility later this year, after which it will take the feedback of the users and decide on further uses. In the accompanying article, NASA also says that to this day astronauts are using printed manuals to work through any kind of issue. AR glasses could actually make this task much easier and faster.
While not directly mentioned in the interview, ODG has its newest headset model, the R6S, listed as coming in 2015 for industrial and government use. It is a reasonable guess, that this is the device NASA is looking at.
The R6S has two HD imagers running at 60 fps. The headset also comes with a Qualcomm quadcore Snapdragon 805 processor, 720p camera, audio and plenty of sensor technology. In the interview, ODG states that the system not only follows what the user is looking at, but also knows the head position and movements. While the system is running Android, the company also mentioned that it is the smallest partner Qualcomm is working with on processor applications. The Qualcomm SDK for augmented reality plays a major role in this.
When asked why NASA was talking to Google for this application, ODG indicated that Google was indeed asked but wanted to focus on consumer applications of the technology. Google’s direction has changed since then. – NH