Despite having an incredibly busy schedule during their 6-month stint on the international space station, Astronauts have been testing Microsoft’s Hololens for both real world applications and gaming potential. Furthermore, proving that the ‘work hard, play hard’ idiom proves true even outside the Earth atmosphere.

The Microsoft Hololens launched to the space station in Dec 2015 with the view that it could be used for collaborative projects between ground control and the space station. Entitled “Project Sidekick”, the Hololens will be used with two modes to help Astronauts through their activities. The Remote Expert Mode uses the Hololens in a combination with Skype. Through this, ground control can highlight different tasks to complete on the space station whilst being in constant communication with the Astronauts and talking them through the procedure if needs be. Procedure mode maps could be used to reduce training time on the ground, by providing holographic illustrations to help guide astronauts through their tasks.

Hololens seems to have proved incredibly successful for this type of application despite still being in the early development stages. This type of experiment really shows the difference between AR and VR devices and how we will use the different types of technology in the future. Despite being geared up (in this scenario) as a ‘work mate’ or “sidekick”; Astronauts, Peake and Kelly, still got to experiment with its potential as a gaming device, demoing the “Project X Ray” title. This alien invasion first person shooter, uses the real world surroundings as the battleground, which might be seen as just as much as much as a training exercise as it was fun on the ISS.