Xbox, Open the pod bay doors.
Watching developers play around with the Oculus Rift has got to be one of the best marketing strategies out there. It’s not even a consumer product yet, and it already has me fingering my credit card in anticipation. I’m not the only one, as NASA’s Human Interfaces Group has been experimenting around by using an Oculus Rift and a Kinect sensor to remotely manipulate robotic arms.
As cool as it seems, this is actually off-the-shelf hardware. Using an upgraded Kinect from the Xbox One, the operator can manipulate the JACO robot claw simply by moving his own arm.
The trick is that traditional robotics controls have an inherent lag time in processing the signals. That’s where the Oculus Rift comes into play. Besides offering a first-person perspective of the action, it actually shows a predicted future, reducing the perceived lag. In the video, he’s not grabbing that block where it is right now, he’s grabbing it where it will be in a few seconds.
Robots will be critical in future space exploration. They can operate in dangerous conditions, don’t require the same support systems, and don’t need years of training. With all the awesome stuff NASA is dreaming up, it’s cool to see what they can do using simple gaming hardware.