Spatial computing healthcare platform XRHealth will send a virtual reality headset to space in order to treat astronauts for mental health conditions during their next space mission scheduled for launch tomorrow, November 7th.
The platform has partnered with Nord-Space Aps and HTC VIVE to configure the VIVE Focus 3 headset to be compatible with the microgravity conditions of space. Since astronauts tend to live in isolation during space missions, Nord-Space Aps’ virtual assistance mental balance initiative can help them address specific needs and maintain their mental health in space.
Per Lundahl Thomsen, chief technology officer at Nord-Space Aps says, “Creating a virtual platform that addresses their mental health needs while in isolation is imperative for them to maintain a healthy lifestyle when they return. We partnered with companies that provide the most advanced technologies that could be adapted for space to provide the most beneficial experience for our astronauts.”
Virtual reality therapy
The VR therapy will take place using an HTC VIVE Focus 3 headset with a special mode designed for microgravity. Formerly, using VR in microgravity came with issues such as tracking and orientation that made astronauts feel sick and unable to read what was being displayed in the headset.
In space where there’s no gravity, it’s hard to keep the VR headset stable and aligned. Other VR headsets lost their tracking quickly in similar situations, according to XRHealth. This is why Nord-Space Aps, HTC, and XRHealth have teamed up to create this VR system for use in space by utilising a simulator mode and other tracking methods with controllers.
“What an incredible honour that NASA, ESA, XRHealth and Nord-Space Aps are using HTC VIVE technology to tackle some of humanity’s most complex challenges in space exploration: isolation and mental health,” said Cher Wang, chairwoman and co-founder of HTC. “It’s a testament to our culture of innovation that VIVE Focus 3 was selected out of multiple VR headsets to accompany NASA Crew-7 on their months-long mission to the ISS.”
Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen will be the first astronaut in space to use the VR headset for preventative care during his 6-8 month mission with NASA Crew-7.