Virtual Reality for Astronauts’ Sanity

Virtual Reality for Astronauts’ Sanity

OCTOBER 28, 2014

by Sarah Chung

Oculus Rift – No, I’m not referring to another horror movie sequel or another dimension in a Doctor Who episode.

Oculus Rift is the name of the new virtual reality technology that has been created to provide a therapeutic solution to lonely space travelers. I can definitely remember the feeling of homesickness I got when I went to my first summer camp, but when you’re traveling light years away into empty space for months at a time, homesickness and anxiety can get a lot worse.

In preparation for the ultimate futuristic Mars colonization, scientists at NASA have probed the idea of virtual reality for years now and have finally decided to incorporate it into the HI-SEA Mars simulation program in Hawaii to relieve depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues experienced by astronauts.

NASA led a team of researchers from Dartmouth, Harvard, UCLA, and Troupe Modern Media to develop the Oculus Rift, a project that has taken 13 years to develop and cost $1.6 million to reward the researchers.

The end result? Think of it as an even more awesome version of the ViewMaster that showed you all those cool slides of wild animals in 3D as a kid.

The Oculus Rift allows astronauts to view pictures of their families or even make them feel like they are relaxing at a beach. Dartmouth is currently working to extend the virtual reality experience by incorporating realistic sounds and smells to engage the brain more into the therapeutic experience.

So for all you future space pioneers out there, have no fear. NASA’s got you covered on your long road trip.

Read more at GIGAOM.