NASA joins Osterhout Design Group to develop augmented reality glasses for astronauts

NASA and San Francisco-based organization Osterhout Design Group together are planning to develop a new pair of augmented-reality glasses. This pair would be worn by astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS).

Right now, astronauts follow printed instructions for fixing different equipment when in space. However, handling the heavy spiral-bound documents often turn out to be extremely difficult to handle. The glasses NASA is looking to develop will make life easier for astronauts as directions can be uploaded directly onto those glasses. This means, astronauts will no more need to turn pages of heavy books to manage emergency situations; they will be able to finish repair jobs more quickly and easily as their hands will be free.


Experts are saying that once the augmented reality glasses are ready, the duration of training sessions astronauts need to undergo will also reduce considerably. This is because when using this special eyewear they will be able stay in touch with ground crews through video conferences and exchange direct visual instructions whenever required.

Previously, NASA expressed its desire to use Google Glass, Google’s flagship wearable device, in space. However, Google showed no interest in NASA’s offer and clearly said that it is looking to focus only on consumers.

Former Google employee Babak Parviz, who used to operate as a Google X director, was the head of the Google Glass project when NASA contacted the Mountain View-based company with the idea.

This decision by Google was perhaps not bad news for NASA as astronauts were not too impresses with features of Google Glass. According to them, the Glass’s screen was too petite and scrolling through things fast appeared to be quite difficult.

NASA received offers from a number of companies before finalizing the deal with San Francisco’s Osterhout Design Group. Next, the agency will be testing the new glasses underwater; reports are suggesting that that test would be taking place sometime in 2015.