A team of students from the University of Baltimore has been invited to travel to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to test heads-up display prototypes they designed within an augmented reality environment to enhance task communication during spacewalks. The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines augmented reality as "an enhanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device."
The team of students is one of 12 teams out of 19 advancing to the testing phase in NASA's Spacesuit User Interface Technologies for Students—NASA SUITS. The students have spent the past several months coding their augmented reality-based prototypes and preparing for the test, which will take place in NASA's Human Integrated Vehicles and Environments, a facility used to develop and build human interfaces for human-in-the-loop testing. Teams are traveling to Houston in mid-April for the test.
The NASA SUITS challenge addresses an authentic, current space exploration challenge. Upon successful testing, each of the proposed displays has the potential to aid in a future NASA spacewalk or exploration mission.
The UB team—who call themselves the "PoeGrammers"—have proposed a way to implement multiple modes of interactions to navigate the heads-up display and to toggle between different menus using eye tracking and hand gestures. Their design concept ensures that the user interface is as minimalistic as it is informative, and that spacewalk missions are as efficient as possible.
The team is made up of seven students from UB’s undergraduate Applied Information Technology and Simulation and Game Design programs:
- Karl-Heinz Gilbert-Wason, UI designer/programmer
- William Hyland, programmer/interaction designer
- John Manlucu, programmer/systems manager
- Osman Martinez, systems and communications
- Larysa Paliashchuk, UI designer/programmer
- Eric Ra, UI designer/3D animator/modeler
- Juan Pablo Soto, programmer/project manager
Other 2019 NASA SUITS schools are Harvard University, the University of Colorado-Boulder, Virginia Tech, the University of Michigan, Boise State University, Bradley University, Riverside City College, Stevens Institute of Technology, the University of Akron, the University of North Texas, Texas A&M University-College Station, the University of Wisconsin, Stout, Inter-American University of Puerto Rico at Bayamon, Valencia College, Santa Monica College, and the University of California, Santa Cruz.
NASA SUITS is managed by the Office of STEM Engagement at JSC. The program helps support the agency's education policy of using NASA's unique missions and programs to engage and encourage students to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.
Learn more about NASA SUITS.
Check out the PoeGrammers' video.