Developing an Integrated Heads-Up Display for Astronauts
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During extravehicular activities (EVAs), also known as spacewalks, astronauts are exposed to the hazardous conditions of space. Therefore, they must accomplish tasks quickly and have easy access to important information. This study aimed to investigate the effect of heads-up displays (HUDs) on astronaut performance during a maintenance-focused EVA. We first compared users’ completion times, comfort, and other factors while they performed operations on a task board using audio instructions, using instructions on an off-the-shelf Microsoft HoloLens HUD, or using a combination of the two. These tests showed a decrease in average mental demand as well as a decrease in mean task completion time for the combined HoloLens and audio as compared to the HoloLens or audio alone. Using these results, we designed and fabricated two versions of a display integrated with an astronaut helmet: (1) a screen system mounted outside the helmet in the lower right of the wearer’s comfortable vision range and (2) a projector integrated into the structure of the helmet that projects onto glass in the wearer’s upper field of view. By making important task information more accessible, our prototypes have the potential to increase astronaut safety by decreasing the time they spend on EVAs. Results from testing show that users perform better with and prefer a visual display in addition to audio communication. This means a visual display can help reduce the duration of an EVA while keeping the user comfortable and focused.
Gemstone Team VISOR