NASA to take Google’s 3D smartphone to space

Mobile & tablets

by CBR Staff Writer| 08 July 2014

The 3D smartphone will be blasted off with a cargo spacecraft to the ISS on Friday.

NASA is planning to take the smartphone with 3D sensing technology, being developed under Google's Project Tango device, to space to use it on International Space Station.

The 3D sensing technology will be used in the Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES.

Ball shaped SPHERES is being prepared to carry out the daily tasks of astronauts as well other high risk duties outside the space station.

This smartphone has customised hardware and software that has human like qualities of understanding of motion and space. It features motion-tracking camera and an infrared depth sensor which can create a 3D map to let the SPHERES easily navigate through modules.

In 2010 engineers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California tried to make the SPHERES smarter by adding redesigned smartphones which included shatter proof display and extra batteries. It gave the satellites a visual capability but that wasn't enough.

NASA's Smart SPHERES project manager Chris Provencher told Reuters, "This type of capability is exactly what we need for a robot that's going to do tasks anywhere inside the space station. It has to have a very robust navigation system."

"We wanted to add communication, a camera, increase the processing capability, accelerometers and other sensors. As we were scratching our heads thinking about what to do, we realized the answer was in our hands."

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