One of those questions being: how will we ensure that colonists don’t become detrimentally affected, psychologically speaking, due to prolonged isolation on a barren planet? NASA has teamed up with both Smart Information Flow Technologies and startup company 8i to provide an answer – virtual reality!
Photo Credit: NASA
“The research, led by R&D consulting company SIFT (Smart Information Flow Technologies), is enabled by holographic software company 8i, which developed proprietary technology to bring photorealistic holograms of humans into virtual and augmented reality experiences.”
Photo Credit: Sian Proctor/NASA HI-SEAS
As a pilot experiment, which will surely be led by many others over time, subjects at the facility had received holographic recordings of astronaut Buzz Aldrin and vocal artist/comedian Reggie Watts. By viewing these recordings in virtual reality, researchers hope to simulate true presence as a result, thereby eliminating any sense of isolation.
NASA and its partners will continue its experiment with new recordings for the next group of scientists at HI-SEAS next year in preparation for Mars colonization. And don’t worry, these recordings will also be made available to the public soon, of which will be distributed by Time Inc.’s LIFE VR.
NASA might just be onto something here. Not only could Mars be the perfect place to help test out VR insofar as combating home sickness and isolation; Mars could also become the perfect testing ground for semi/fully virtual environments. There are a lot of distractions here on Earth which make VR and AR limited in their applicability. We found this out the hard way when people started dying, unfortunately, while playing the popular mobile AR game Pokemon Go. But with Mars, colonists will have an entire planetary terrain to take advantage of. As a result of this experiment, the red planet could eventually become a major hub for all VR research and leisure.