If you thought the surge in recent hands-free computing devices was cool, just wait – NASA is exploring using the technology to create better ways to control distant robots and rovers.
At the game developers conference last week, even NASA employees got on stage to show off some of the innovations that they’d been working on. The star of the talk was when NASA controlled its ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Limbed Extra-Terrestrial Explorer) rover from almost 400 miles away – all without using a joystick or complicated series of keyboards commands.
Instead, the presenters used one of LEAP Motion’s hands-free control units. LEAP’s device can fully articulate all ten fingers on both hands at the same time, granting a surprisingly accurate and intuitive way to interact with other devices.
NASA is likely not the first company to investigate using these new technologies to control robots, but we’re betting they’re the first to use a 2000-pound robot that’s 400 miles away to do it.
The talk comes as part of NASA’s recent attempts to reach out and engage with the public on new advances in space exploration and general scientific and technological concepts; last year the organization put out a new space-oriented game on Xbox Live called Mars Rover Landing.