It sounds like something from an episode of Star Trek, but evidently, holoportation is very real and it’s proven a game changer for NASA.

Holoportation, a combination of the words ‘teleportation’ and ‘hologram’, was tested for the first time last fall by NASA to virtually “send” doctors into space with an ISS crew.

A level up from telemedicine, holoportation is a technology that NASA developed and first tested last October. The space agency succeeded in virtually “teleporting” doctors to the International Space Station. In concrete terms, Dr. Josef Schmid and his team were able to virtually step on board the ISS without physically leaving Earth.

To pull off this feat, NASA used hologram technology, with Microsoft’s Hololens camera. The tool was used to send virtual 3D representations of Dr Schmid, AEXA Aerospace CEO Fernando De La Pena Llaca and their teams to the space station. NASA tested the approach in the hopes of being able to use it to provide astronauts with medical care they might need while in space.

NASA flight surgeon Dr. Josef Schmid gives a space greeting as he is holoported on to the International Space Station. (Image: European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesque/ NASA)

For now, this new mode of communication has not yet been perfected and continues to be worked on. In the future, NASA wants to take the immersive experience further. The goal is to combine holoportation with the capabilities of augmented reality and haptic devices — the perception and manipulation of real objects — to create a form of ‘tele-mentoring.’

‘Tele-mentoring’ could encompass, for example, sending, in virtual form, an engineer on board the spacecraft to help the crew carry out certain tasks. It could also make it possible to undertake equipment repairs as a collaboration between the astronauts and the specialist on Earth.

Holoportation could also be used on a more regular basis to bring VIPs to the heart of the space station or to conduct private medical conferences. It’s hoped that in the future such innovations could help solve some of the problems associated with distant travel. One current issue for Mars missions, for instance is communication delays, which are now about 20 minutes each way for radio transmission, video streams or holoportation.

This story was published via AFP Relaxnews

(Main and featured image: NASA/ Unsplash)

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NASA’s Holoportation Is Able To Virtually Send Doctors Into Space

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