Although Microsoft’s Kinect and the Oculus Rift hardware were both meant for the gaming world, they have found a use in more advanced industries. NASA, for instance, is using both of these components in controlling space-bound robots.
This isn’t exactly surprising, given the fact that Kinect has found its use in many non-gaming arenas by now. Same goes for Oculus Rift which, by registering the user’s reflexes accurately, can be put to countless uses in different scenarios.
According to NASA, both of these hardware units are especially useful for controlling the robots that are sent to space. Apparently, while the space agency has a significant budget and has been working on robotics for decades now, it is able to control the robots remotely in a far more effective manner using Kinect and Oculus Rift.
The use of Oculus Rift, in particular, is meant to provide NASA engineers with a more immersive interface. The unique use of the gaming hardware is being done as part of a NASA project at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Originally, the engineers tried to use Kinect but the gear wasn’t good enough for effective control of the robots. It was the significant improvements in Kinect 2 which finally wooed folks at NASA who are now using it in the project.
This is welcome news, not only for space enthusiasts but also for avid gamers. As the Human Interfaces Engineer, Victor Luo says, “Imagine… how inspirational it would be for a 7-year old to control a space robot with the tools he’s already familiar with!” Such use of popular hardware will certainly make robotics a more understandable phenomenon for a greater portion of the population.