Beam me up, Scotty! NASA doctor gets ‘holoported’ to space station
Star Wars turned to reality when a doctor appeared as a hologram to an astronaut at the International Space Station (ISS) for the first time ever on October 8, 2021, NASA reported recently.
NASA flight surgeon Dr Josef Schmid and his crew were “holoported” to the ISS using the Microsoft Hololens Kinect camera and a PC with custom software Aexa, a NASA press release on April 8 said.
Schmid had a virtual consultation with astronaut Thomas Pesquet as part of his 3D telemedicine visit.
The “holoportation”, a word derived from hologram and transportation, featured a life-like visual and audio connection between the space centre and Earth.
The technology allows high-quality 3D models of people to be reconstructed, compressed and transmitted live anywhere in real-time.
Holoportation has been in use since 2016 by Microsoft, but this is the first time that it has been used in such an extreme and remote environment.
NASA expects to use this form of communication far more extensively in future missions. It reckons the next step will be to combine holoportation with augmented reality to enable telementoring.
However, the main obstacle to overcome is the 20-minute communication delay, especially as plans shape up for new missions to Mars.