Using space satellites to develop Virtual Reality

Using space satellites to develop Virtual Reality
© Science Museum Group/Jody Hartley

The European Space Agency is using space satellites to develop Virtual Reality and augmented reality applications.

The European Space Agency are using Earth Observation, space satellites, and navigation data to extend Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality beyond the reach of terrestrial networks. This allows live mapping and specific location-based information.

The European Space Agency ask: “What do astronauts, Pokémon, wildlife park rangers and surgeons all have in common?”

“The answer is virtual and augmented reality, or VR and AR.”

Virtual Reality applications

Nick Appleyard, Head of ESA’s Business Applications department, said: “The VR/AR market is estimated to reach $150 billion by 2020, with VR representing around $30 billion and AR $120 billion. Both the consumer and the professional market look promising and capable of flourishing if offered the right products and services in a technically-supported environment..

Appleyard continued: “We think space can add a great deal of value here, both in terms of helping industry capitalise on the business opportunities, and helping the technology and its positive applications for people develop further. Our Business Application programme is offering support to companies for business case assessment and development of space-enabled services based on virtual and augmented reality applications.”

Using space satellites for VR

One of the reason that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality applications are not in widespread use is because 4G networks lack the capacity, responsiveness, and coverage which is necessary.

Antonio Franchi, Head of ESA’s Satellite for 5G and Future Programmes Acquisition, added: “Satellite services are becoming increasingly vital in all aspects of daily life, and part of the digitalisation of industry and society.

“5G will change the way we communicate, work and interact with technology, and space has an invaluable role to play, which is why we are working with industrial partners to develop market solutions and support space-enabled 5G trials and service demonstrations to help realise the technology’s potential and the many applications it will enable.”

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