Monday, January 26, 2015

Walking in the Footsteps Of The Martians--The HoloLens


A new holographic planning tool which utilizes Microsoft Technology allows NASA scientists to view Mars as Curiosity does or a Martian might, but staying here on Earth. What is the point? Planning is the main point. Planning Curiosities route on Mars for this year, perhaps planning habitats or future landing sites…the possibilities are endless!


HOW THE HoloLens Works; At present things may be a bit bulky or rough, but we’re talking prototypes not commercially ready. First there is a headset which comes attached to a box which is worn around your neck. The box houses the CPU(central processing unit),GPU(graphics processing unit),and HPU (holographic processing unit). The device processes terabytes of data from the glasses sensors in real time. As a reminder t terabyte is a multiple of the unit ‘byte’ used in digital information. The prefix: tera? It represents The fourth power of 1000 (or 10 12according to the International System of Units). Hence one terabyte is one trillion bytes.

Need more? A terabyte of data represents enough words that it would take every adult in America speaking at the same time five minutes to say them all. Got it?


Hence one terabyte is one trillion bytes. On the top of each side you may find buttons, speakers on the underside and a MicroUSB port in the back (likely for charging)


HoloLens features see-through, holographic lenses and spatial sound so you can see and hear holograms in your environment. According to Microsoft's definition, the holograms you see are made of light and can be 2D or 3D. Depending on the application, you can also move the holograms, reshape them or change their color. In addition, HoloLens also makes it possible for holograms to interact with the real world.


Obviously the HoloLens & Microsoft have big plans and these plans don’t involve Mars so much as maybe gaming, architecture, teaching/schools, to be honest the commercial markets are endless and the benefits to humanity are tremendous. But right now before anyone else can have them, NASA does. The software was the HoloLens is utilizing was co-authored by NASA & Microsoft simulates the environment as seen by Curiosity which is gathered using data that the rover sends from Mars. This will then allows program scientists to examine the environment as if they were standing alongside the rover. Awesome, right?


Photographs – 2D flat files have been something to which Mars planners often refer to in planning and even sometimes Curiosity is tasked with sending back a picture that can be converted into 3D stereo views. But depth is hard to translate.

So how does NASA get around this problem? “holographic computing”. Taking real imagery and applying a virtual reality lens. Scientists can crouch and look at a Martian rock close up or gauge the distance needed for the rover to travel, and more. Program scientists can now stand beside the rover on Mars from their offices here on Earth just by strapping on a virtual reality headset in their office.

FYI-The software is called OnSight and was co-developed by Microsoft & NASA to utilize Microsofts new HoloLens – not yet on the commercial market.

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