An Outer-Space Use Case for VR

Virtual Reality Is Shooting for the Stars

SpaceVR_lFor every armchair astronaut out there, this one’s for you.

Like any new platform, virtual reality (VR) needs some killer content to drive the concept mainstream — something to kick up some dust and create excitement. Here’s one potential contender and it’s found on Kickstarter.

A group consisting of astronauts, NASA scientists, space engineers and astronomy enthusiasts have founded a start-up called SpaceVR, currently running a crowd-funding campaign to place a virtual reality camera on the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceVR intends to collect $500,000 to fund the inclusion and maintenance of a customized virtual reality camera on an upcoming ISS resupply launch. Support contributions include varied levels of access to the 360-degree footage that will be shot with the camera. Sending hardware into space isn’t without risk, and the SpaceVR Web site clearly states this. “Others have tried and failed” to send VR cameras into space, the company says. But success would see interactive views from the space station become available for any earthlubber with a VR headset.

Enabling streaming of near-live 360-degree views from space is an ambitious goal, and perhaps the most fascinating use of virtual reality to date. Beyond the ISS, SpaceVR has longer-term plans to enable virtual reality broadcasts from the moon, an asteroid and eventually from Mars.

It’s an exciting initiative for space enthusiasts, who have an opportunity to experience an astronaut’s view of space but from a safe distance. This could become must-see virtual reality, driving more early adopter and mainstream use of VR headsets.

This is more than entertainment: it’s also an example of VR technology being used to create an immersive educational experience, potentially sparking increased student interest in the sciences. CCS Insight believes that educational and vocational uses will become important early examples of how virtual reality could be used. The ability to “see what I saw” could change the ways students are taught and learn. Virtual worlds will be built to complement textbooks and whiteboards.

SpaceVR is an out-of-this-world example of how far VR is going. A successful campaign and execution could encourage more projects, leading to a boom in content. There’s plenty of space to expand.

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