‘OK, Google Glass, let’s explore Mars’
'OK glass, open the fridge,’ our health officer and photographer Filip Koubek is standing in the kitchen area with a pair of plastic shades on his nose, messing around. We have first tested the Google Glass during lunch a couple of days ago and the ‘OK, glass’ game has stuck with us ever since.
Today we have finally tested it with an analogue space suit.
“I think we might be actually the first people in the world to test Google Glass integrated into an analogue space suit,” said Crew 135 commander and author of the Google Glass experiment Ondrej. “I haven’t found any mention of it being tested by anyone else before,” he said, explaining that in the not so distant future, some sort of head-up or head-down displays will surely become indispensable
for astronauts in space.
During our two hour experiment, Tereza’s helmet was fitted with Google’s popular wearable tech gadget. The original intention was to test the 4iii wearable heart monitor at the same time. However, some last minute technical issues forced us to abandon this plan.
As the Mars Desert Research Station helmets have already been around for a couple of years and most likely were not designed with Google Glass or any other head-up display in mind, it proved to be quite complicated to put the helmet on Tereza’s head without shifting the glasses on her nose. Once your head is inside the helmet, there is no chance of readjusting the position of the glasses and you have to carry on your work until the end of the planned Extra-vehicular activity, despite the slipping shades.
“The purpose of this experiment was to test a head-mounted display, or a head-up display for purposes of gaining more information inside a space-suit, basically to improve efficiency of an astronaut, to improve safety, to improve communication and so on,” said Ondrej.
Tereza was testing the compass feature of the Google Glass. However, she reported encountering several problems.
“The Google Glass was programmed to activate when you tilt your head backwards 30 degrees, and at the beginning, it seemed to me I couldn’t activate the glass because I wasn’t able to tilt my head that much as the helmet was restricting my motion,” said Tereza. “However, later I found out the problem was that as the glass shifted on my nose when I was putting my helmet on, the focus changed and I wasn’t able to see anything on the little display when I had both my eyes open. After that, I just always closed my left eye when I wanted to get my directions and it worked perfectly,” she said.
“I think the experiment went really well,” said Ondrej. “Google glass worked well and we collected a lot of data. We learned that this touchless feature of activating the Google Glass is really important inside the helmet where you cannot touch your head or activate anything with your hand.”
Google Glass or any other sort of a head up display has not yet been tested in space due to extremely demanding safety and material requirements.