The global pandemic had us all trapped in our homes for two years, registering for vaccines and, always in and out of the hospitals, clinics and Intensive Care Units (ICUs). In the meantime, NASA scientists were trying to bring otherworldly science fiction to our very reality like what we have seen in Iron Man and Star Trek: Voyager.
During the nearly two-year COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine and innovative techniques of reaching individuals have evolved and altered. The first persons “holoported” from Earth into space were NASA flight surgeon Dr. Josef Schmid, software vendor AEXA Aerospace CEO Fernando De La Pena Llaca, and their teams in October 2021.
ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet held a two-way chat with live images of Schmid and De La Pena placed in the middle of the International Space Station using the Microsoft HoloLens Kinect camera and a personal computer with special software from Aexa. This was the first holoportation handshake between Earth and space.
“This is completely new manner of human communication across vast distances,”
“Furthermore, it is a brand-new way of human exploration, where our human entity is able to travel off the planet.”
The surgeon added, “Our physical body is not there, but our human entity absolutely is there. It doesn’t matter that the space station is traveling 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 will be there in that spot, live on the space station.”
What is Holoportation?
Holoportation is a capture technology that allows high-quality 3D models of humans to be recreated, compressed, and broadcast in real-time anyplace. Users may see, hear, and engage
with remote participants in 3D when these images are paired with mixed reality displays like HoloLens.
While Microsoft has been using holoportation since at least 2016, this was the first time it was used in such an extreme and remote location as space.
NASA is showing this novel mode of communication as a testbed for wider usage on future missions. The next step of NASA is to employ this technology for two-way communication, in which people on Earth will be holoported to space and astronauts will be returned to Earth.
Dr. Schmid explained,
“We’ll utilise this for our private medical conferences, private psychiatric conferences, private family conferences, and to bring VIPs onboard the space station to visit with astronauts.”
Future implications of holoportation
After that, combining holoportation with augmented reality to fully enable Tele-mentoring is the next stage.
“Imagine you can bring the best instructor or the actual designer of a particularly complex technology right beside you wherever you might be working on it. Furthermore, we will combine augmented reality with haptics. You can work on the device together, much like two of the best surgeons working during an operation. This would put everyone at rest knowing the best team is working together on a critical piece of hardware,”
Holoportation and similar technologies could have a significant impact on the future of deep space travel. As plans for trips to Mars take shape, one challenge will be overcoming communication delays that occur during the journey to and from Mars. Communication, whether through conventional radio transmissions, video feeds, or novel technologies like Holoportation, will face a unique barrier with a delay of up to 20 minutes each way.
Direct uses can also be found on Earth. This type of technology could allow people interact in other severe places, such as Antarctica, offshore oil rigs, or military action regions, regardless of distance or environmental obstacles.
Published By: Bhavya Dedhia