Image: An augmented reality demonstration underway in the ISS's Columbus research laboratory. (photographer: Domenico Tedone, Thales-Alenia Space, Italy) - photo by Domenico Tedone, Thales-Alenia Space, Italy

The tool has been exclusively developed for the European Space Agency (ESA) in an effort to help astronauts with the provisioning of work instructions while they are in space.

According to VTT, “first practical tests carried out at ESA’s European Astronaut Centre produced excellent results.”

As VTT explains in a public statement, maintenance and other work tasks in space have to be carried out without errors and at highly precise timing.

To be ready for those complex and demanding tasks, astronauts have to pass in-depth practising to be capable not only to coordinate well technical aspects, but also to cooperate with a distant team of experts.

The tool, which was developed during the two-year long EdcAR project (Engineering data in cross platform AR), transmits critical information to an astronaut´s HoloLens device, providing him detailed visual instructions with step-by-step guidance for critical procedures.

Precise AR HoloLens-Guidance for Astronauts

It uses different output in the form of text, graphics, video, sound etc. to help the astronaut “perform the necessary procedures in the right order, such as “now press this button”, “then turn the lever (B)” and similar.

First practical tests of the new AR systems have been performed in the ISS-Columbus training facility located in the ESA’s on-ground European Astronaut Centre (EAC) in Cologne, Germany.

And while it has been specifically designed for the space industry, VTT points out that it could also “be applied in a number of sectors, such as the aviation industry, machine building, ships, mining machines and power plants.”