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That other NASA project for helping astronauts

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  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    It's been a while, and I'm sure at least two of you have been wondering what I've been up to. ;)

    Well, I've been working on an 8-month project to assist astronauts aboard the ISS with procedure execution given their current constraints, as well as anticipated future ones. AFAIK, this was in fact the same project prompt given to the HoloLens team that worked in conjunction with JSC personnel to build a HoloLens solution for the ISS.

    I thought I'd share sort of the high level process of our project for those of you unfamiliar with user experience research / design.

    We (an interdisciplinary team of 5) started with researching the domain of work in general. Much of this research involved shadowing workers in volunteer facilities and in general workplaces in which there's some novice user aspect to the work process.

    We then modeled all our research data to find relationships and common trends/pain points.

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    Then off to prototyping! We ran through several quick, cheap prototypes for assisting users through instructions. To name a few, an augmented reality headset and a wristband wearable (which provided audio instructions).

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    As many others had already concluded, we ultimately chose the AR w/voice commands route because we needed something hands-free and always in front of you during work. This prototype was powered through Google Slides embedded in a web app on a smartphone (each slide was a different UI screen) and an experimenter dashboard which cleverly jumped to different slides based off of context.

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    Then we refined the entire system. We used an Intel Edison as sort of the brains of the system. A Raspberry Pi was used to run a web server to power our UI (an AngularJS web app with a Node.js backend). Another Raspberry Pi connected to various Bluetooth beacons sitting near required tools in the room - this was a subsystem in charge of notifying the user of the location of tools. Lastly, my Windows Phone provided speech recognition - can't beat the built-in offline speech API.

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    Here's the final prototype:

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  • User profile image
    cheong

    That's cool.

    However I believe that if this has to work with the photochromic glass that used to make the front of astronaut's helmet, it could be tricky to adjust the strength of the light.

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  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    , cheong wrote

    That's cool.

    ++

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    Master PI: is this for use during EVA activity or inside the station or for both types of work ?

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    , figuerres wrote

    Master PI: is this for use during EVA activity or inside the station or for both types of work ?

    For any procedural task in space, so both, in addition to future missions to Mars.

    I have a feeling your underlying question is related to cheong's, so I'll respond to his:

    , cheong wrote

    However I believe that if this has to work with the photochromic glass that used to make the front of astronaut's helmet, it could be tricky to adjust the strength of the light.

    Our problem prompt involved imagining what technology will be like in the next 5-10 years, and as such things will change and get better. The only real constraint becomes human capacity (aka, cognitive, spatial ability). Thus, we operate under the assumption that suits get better. In fact, as part of the user research side of things, we were at Kennedy Space Center looking at the various ongoing research projects for the next space suit, specifically a suit appropriate for the Martian terrain.

    Also, the actual prototype doesn't matter. In the end, it's the findings from research and usability testing that carry forward, and the actual thing is used to inspire the people at the top to support future efforts.

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    , MasterPi wrote

    *snip*

    For any procedural task in space, so both, in addition to future missions to Mars.

    I have a feeling your underlying question is related to cheong's, so I'll respond to his:

    *snip*

    Our problem prompt involved imagining what technology will be like in the next 5-10 years, and as such things will change and get better. The only real constraint becomes human capacity (aka, cognitive, spatial ability). Thus, we operate under the assumption that suits get better. In fact, as part of the user research side of things, we were at Kennedy Space Center looking at the various ongoing research projects for the next space suit, specifically a suit appropriate for the Martian terrain.

    Also, the actual prototype doesn't matter. In the end, it's the findings from research and usability testing that carry forward, and the actual thing is used to inspire the people at the top to support future efforts.

    I was only partly thinking of his question, I w2as actually thinking more about the use environment would the user be in a suit / helmet, frame of reference visually and environment / rf / solar / hard vacuum /  power sources --- yeah kind of everything.

    any leads on star trek style gravity ??

    this is the kind of thing i'd love to work on!!!

    PS: I live in Florida, need me to move ??  :) 

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    @figuerres: Ha, not a clue. The project was exploratory so it might just be something close to the HoloLens form factor they end up using in the end, which might work okay under a suit, or would simply be embedded into the suit Iron Man style.

    Star Trek style gravity? There are some cool projects in the works actually! E.g passing low voltage electricity through the suit to blow off particles. Also, 3D printing full habitats on a planet (think programming a crane to drop small amounts of dust).

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    , MasterPi wrote

    @figuerres: Ha, not a clue. The project was exploratory so it might just be something close to the HoloLens form factor they end up using in the end, which might work okay under a suit, or would simply be embedded into the suit Iron Man style.

    Star Trek style gravity? There are some cool projects in the works actually! E.g passing low voltage electricity through the suit to blow off particles. Also, 3D printing full habitats on a planet (think programming a crane to drop small amounts of dust).

    here is another line of thought.

    our SO Called "Nuclear Power" plants are really just fancy "Steam Engines" I'd love to see us find a way to remove the need for the turbine and the cooling water and just "Make electricity"

    also the whole "Rocket power"  problem with carrying the fuel and the amount needed just to leave earth, something more like a plane and just fly up to the edge and then into orbit.

  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    @figuerres: Well, the idea for Mars seems to be converting chemicals in the atmosphere into fuel. It'd be interesting if you could do that within a suit by just moving around.

    Also, 3D printing parts instead of carrying them with you...super cool.

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