The wonders of the immersive virtual reality headset known as Oculus Rift continue to unfold, driven to ever-new heights by the separate development of the Virtuix Omni treadmill. But so far, most of the applications have been related to some form of gaming. However, one new development gives us a look at what the device might do for the future of robotic space missions.
The experiment was conducted earlier this summer by the Human Interfaces Group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. Equipped with an Oculus Rift headset, a tester is shown using the Virtuix Omni treadmill to explore a virtual version of Mars. In addition to inspecting the Red Planet's terrain, the tester also moves in for a close-up view of the Curiosity rover, rendered in spectacular detail on a monitor mirroring what the Oculus Rift headset is projecting to the wearer.
The lab also used Oculus Rift to explore a virtual version of the International Space Station. So while the struggle to continue sending humans to space has faced challenges due to increasingly cheaper and more efficient robotic missions, this virtual form of interplanetary human travel could eventually serve as a cost effective compromise.
You can check out a brief demonstration of the gaming meets space travel mashup in the video below.