What You Should Know:
- XRHealth, the leading healthcare platform in Spatial computing, announces today that for the first time ever, a virtual reality headset will be sent to space to treat astronauts for mental health conditions during their next space mission targeted for launch on November 5th.
- XRHealth partnered with Nord-Space Aps and HTC VIVE to configure the VIVE Focus 3 headset to be compatible with the microgravity conditions of space.
Virtual Assistance Driven Mental Health Initiative for Astronauts in Space Missions
While on a space mission, astronauts live in isolation and in non-stimulating and highly stressful environments that could potentially lead to mental health conditions. To address this, Nord-Space Aps created a virtual assistance mental balance initiative aimed to address astronauts’ specific needs to maintain mental health while in orbit. 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.
“Astronauts are essentially isolated during their missions for months and years at a time and are confined to small spaces with limited contact with friends and family,” says Per Lundahl Thomsen, Chief Technology Officer at Nord-Space Aps. “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 fo
The VR therapy will occur using the HTC VIVE Focus 3 headset equipped with a custom simulator mode designed to function effectively in a microgravity environment. Historically, employing a VR headset in such conditions presented significant challenges related to tracking and orientation. This was due to the constant jittering, rolling, and drifting of the content, leading to motion sickness and rendering the content in the headset unreadable for astronauts. In a microgravity setting, there are no natural gravity vectors to establish orientation, resulting in a gradual drift that rendered the VR headset both unusable and unstable. Previous ventures with different VR headsets encountered issues with losing tracking within just a few minutes of use. Collaboratively, Nord-Space Aps, HTC, and XRHealth undertook the task of engineering a VR platform capable of functioning in space by implementing a simulator mode and a specialized tracking methodology via the controllers.