Cochrane-Based Stardust is Working on Virtual Reality for Astronauts
Cochrane based company, Stardust Technologies, plans to take virtual reality to a whole new level.
Stardust is exploring how to simulate activities for astronauts to improve their mental health while onboard to the International Space Station (ISS) and into the deep space for long distance traveling.
Stardust's Chief Technology Officer, Jawad El Houssine, believe it is extremely important for astronauts to feel like they are grounded to the Earth while being in space, and that virtual reality will be very useful to serve this purpose.
Exploring VR without Gravity
The company is the first team ever to utilize the Facebook-owned Oculus Quest headset in this way to collaborate with Canadian Space Agency and the National Research Council of Canada to explore how to best implement VR beyond the surface of the Earth.
The team didn't enter into space themselves to research this. They have instead utilized airplanes to simulate gravity in space, moon, and mars. After conducting a few sample flights, Stardust was successful at making VR work in zero percent gravity environment.
Exploring Earth Gravity in Space
The team named this project, Project EDEN, with a goal to induce a simulated Earth-like experience while being in space. The project will use AI and haptic feedback to simulate sensations such as rain, wind, and touch.
Jason Michaud, CEO of Stardust, says the project intend to assist astronauts alleviate the feelings of being homesick, lonely, and isolated. This type of feeling is commonly experienced during the time of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
An example of this type of simulation would be to play golf, hockey, and even practice meditation in microgravity environment for the astronauts while onboard the ISS.
The company has high ambition to make this project work, as NASA plans to establish moon base in 2024, and also sending human missions to Mars.
There will be needs to provide engaging entertainments for long journeys beyond Earth. This idea is not new, as early Spaniards in the 15th century would sing and play games during their voyages in the sea.
This is great reason for people to utilize immersive technologies as form of entertainment as they travel through space. The first step would be to make sure this technology is ready for the ISS, and future space journeys. The company plans to allow astronauts test out the technology within the next 12 months on the International Space Station.
Michaud plans to send El Houssine alone to Antartica to test out their technology. This technology would also service the mining industries.