NASA has been quick to embrace VR technology in a number of ways, and its latest release shows you why that’s a very good thing.
The organization teamed up with VR video company Harmonic to release a new 360 degree experience, seen below. It shows astronauts training for space walks at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) in Houston, Texas. You may well have seen this incredible pool, the largest of its kind, in documentaries before but this is our first look at it in 360.
The short clip heads underwater to show you how astronauts train for upcoming missions to the International Space Station (ISS), which itself is no stranger to VR users. Bulky suits are dragged around by divers across a full replica of the station, with the conditions in the pool as resembling those in space as closely as is possible on Earth. It may be shot in an expensive facility, though it still feels suitably cold and isolated.
Though brief, it’s a pretty remarkable clip that brings us that bit closer to some of the state of the art technology that NASA is working with. Diving into the pool and watching astronauts at work is a fascinating experience. Harmonic also offers the video in 2160p at 60fps, which is about as good as this technology gets right now.
As always, you can simply watch the experience in a browser, but the best results coming from loading it up on the YouTube iOS or Android app on a smartphone, hitting the Google Cardboard icon and then inserting it into a mobile headset and watching it in VR.
Harmonic will be showing the video at its stand at the 2016 IBC conference in Amsterdam this weekend. If you’re planning on going then you’ll also be able to win a headset at the company’s booth, so it’s well worth swinging by.
Elsewhere, NASA is optimistic about the future of VR technology. It’s working with developers on other, fully VR experiences and is also using it for other training techniques. It’s even experimenting with mixed reality (MR).