Recently in the Virtual Reality Category


NASA and Microsoft are teaming up to develop Sidekick, a new project using commercial technology to empower astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Someone Has Created a Holodeck

A Queen's University researcher has created a Star Trek-like human-scale 3D videoconferencing pod that allows people in different locations to video conference as if they are standing in front of each other. "Why Skype when you can talk to a life-size 3D holographic image of another person?" says professor Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab.

Google's Project Glass VR Headgear

Project Glass, Google

"A group of us from Google[x] started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment. We're sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input. So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do."

Liquid Sky at NASA

NASA's Liquid Galaxy: An Overview, open.NASA

"A few months back, Open.Gov Team Lead, Nick Skytland approached me with an idea to implement Google's Liquid Galaxy project at NASA. I was immediately intrigued by the idea, and set forth researching what would be involved. Nick and I collaborated with others at Johnson Space Center (JSC) to come up with a way to implement our own Liquid Galaxy. We also collaborated with people from other NASA centers to come up with ideas to extend the project's functionality, and to apply the same hardware to other activities. In the end, we came up with an exciting eight-display Liquid Galaxy "immersive cave" and a number of ideas to consider for the future."

Note: This Open Government Initiative project (with the support of NASA Forward Maker Camp and the JSC ICA) highlights the intersection of clustered computing, open source, data visualization, and space-is-awesome.

Virtual Institutes and Collaboration

Virtual Institutes to Support the Scientific Collaborations of the Future

"The National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced Science Across Virtual Institutes (SAVI), an effort to motivate collaboration among scientists and educators around the globe to spur scientific discovery. By connecting researchers with common interests and goals, SAVI can better leverage taxpayer resources while helping to address some of society's most vexing problems. Building on beneficial partnerships initiated by NSF-supported researchers, research institutes and universities, SAVI projects will address common challenges and serve as creative hubs for innovative research and education activities across borders."

Eyes on the Solar System

NASA is giving the public the power to journey through the solar system using a new interactive Web-based tool. The "Eyes on the Solar System" interface combines video game technology and NASA data to create an environment for users to ride along with agency spacecraft and explore the cosmos. Screen graphics and information such as planet locations and spacecraft maneuvers use actual space mission data. Point of view can be switched from faraway to close-up to right "on board" spacecraft. Location, motion and appearance are based on predicted and reconstructed mission data. Dozens of controls on a series of pop-up menus allow users to fully customize what they see, and video and audio tutorials explain how to use the tool's many options. Users may choose from 2-D or 3-D modes, with the latter simply requiring a pair of red-cyan glasses to see. "Eyes on the Solar System" and an introduction video are available at: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/eyes

Pro-football-player-turned-multi-mission-astronaut (an all-around Superman), Leland D. Melvin will meet and talk with museum-mentored high school students in a computer-generated, 3-D environment created by students on the Miami Science Museum's virtual world island in Second Life on Saturday, May 21st at 10 a.m. Using avatars that they have created, youth will interact with Mr. Melvin's avatar, who will talk about his passion for science, lend insight into his career path, and answer students' questions.

When astronomer John P. Huchra passed away in October 2010, his friends and colleagues at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) sought a way to honor his research and teaching legacies. One way has been the creation of a new interactive WorldWide Telescope (WWT) tour, "John Huchra's Universe," which was unveiled at the 217th AAS meeting in Seattle, Washington, on January 11, 2011, and is now available online. WWT is a free and very powerful interactive astronomy program from Microsoft Research.

Avatar: Your Virtual Self

NSF Science Nation wth Miles O'Brien: Your avatar may be just a virtual identity, but it can also affect how you are in the real world. "In this world of new media, people spend a lot of time interacting with digital versions of one another." --Jeremy Bailenson

If you spend a lot of time online, you may even have an electronic alter ego--an avatar. An avatar is a movable image that people design to represent themselves in virtual reality environments or in cyberspace.

"For some reason, I always pick really short people," says Stanford undergraduate student and avid video gamer Oliver Castaneda.

Lockheed Martin plans to increase the affordability and efficiency of space system development with the opening of a new advanced technology and virtual simulation facility, known as the Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory (CHIL). The CHIL, located at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company headquarters in Littleton, Colo., integrates several virtual reality technologies enabling engineers and technicians to validate, test, and understand products and processes virtually before creating them physically. The result is a reduction in risk with savings in both time and cost.

You've seen these things in SciFI films for years - "Aliens", "Avatar", "Star Trek" and so on. Headsets that let you communicate and record everything around you - hands free. Now you can buy one that works with your iPhone/iPad or Android device. Imagine equipping NASA Away Teams in the field or astronauts in space with these devices and allowing all of us back home to literally peer over their shoulders as they work and live in space and exotic research locations on our own planet.

Keith's note: One of the participants in this evening's reception in Washington, DC after the NEO conference was a NASA field center director. Given that he recently had some foot surgery and is not supposed to travel, he used an avatar instead. The center director? Why ARC's Pete Worden, of course. His avatar of choice was an "Anybot" droid. I have seen this little wonder in action in NASA CTO Chris Kemp's office at NASA ARC and will be reporting on it in the near future. This droid is currently on loan by the manufacturer to NASA for evaluation.

This droid is very cool. You can see what is going on and talk to people and they can talk to you. It is totally web browser controlled and has navigation software and obstacle avoidance hardware (and LIDAR) on board. You can inhabit not only your avatar but also other ones in remote locations - just like Cylons downloading into new bodies. Actually it is more like "Serge" the butler droid in the new prequel series "Caprica". Do not be surprised if you see one roaming around NASA HQ in the near future.