Outer space. The words alone conjure images of high-tech gadgetry and mind-blowing scientific research -- that is to say, the future. But what if we told you our best and brightest cosmic explorers were still relying on arm-mounted post-it notes to guide them through spacewalks? Yes, that would be Staples in space. Luckily, Recon Instruments has partnered with NASA Desert Research and Technology Studies to test two variants of its GPS-enabled Micro Optics Display for use in next-generation spacesuits, and get our space agency a wee bit closer to the P.K. Dick fantasy we hold dear. The customized goggles, which deliver information direct-to-eye, were put to task by the Arizona desert-based team, undergoing a series of simulated critical mission procedures. The end result? A resounding thumbs-up approval from NASA (not to mention deceased sci-fi authors), and a promise to evaluate the tech for further testing. Do you hear that sound, rocketeers? Silly us. Of course, you can't -- in space, no one can hear our applause.
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16th September 2011

Recon Instruments' Micro Optics Display technologies successfully evaluated by NASA for Next Generation Spacesuit applications

Recon Instruments' customized solution for NASA's annual field testing provided an eye-widening experience for the testers involved.

Recon Instruments is the multiple award-winning Vancouver-based technology company behind the world's first GPS enabled Micro Optics Displays for alpine goggles. This technology served as the starting point for two customized versions that were evaluated at NASA Desert Research and Technology Studies (Desert RATS) in the Arizona desert.

The technology was tested by several subjects, including astronaut and engineering specialists who evaluated the goggles paying particular attention to how well the Micro Optics Display conveyed information. Currently, spacewalking astronauts rely on a paper checklist worn on the arm, or from voice command from within the vehicle or ground control. Recon's technology was loaded with procedures that guided the subjects through a complex task that was representative of an experiment that might be deployed on the Moon or Mars.

The technology was warmly received by the testers in this early evaluation, with the demonstration showing the technology being successful in delivering the correct information in a clear and succinct manner, direct-to-eye.

"Recon Instruments' display technology goggles allowed NASA to evaluate a potential option for displaying information to an astronaut wearing a spacesuit. The goggles were evaluated using simulated procedures and hardware mock-ups typical of expected EVA tasks. We learned that this display worked quite well in conveying information needed by the astronauts to perform complex tasks. We will continue to investigate this and other kinds of display technology in the future." said Michael Lewis, who is the engineer in charge of developing Helmet Mounted Displays for NASA's future spacesuit.

Dan Eisenhardt, CEO of Recon Instruments added "We are delighted that our technology was received well by the specialists at Desert RATS and successfully provided information direct-to-eye. We look forward to exploring this technology further with NASA as it proceeds with development of the next generation spacesuit. Skiers and snowboarders can get their hands on this Micro Optics Display technology this fall and will be able to put it to the test themselves on the snow."

More information about Desert RATS field tests can be found at http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/analogs/desert_rats.html

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Recon Instruments gets NASA Desert RATS eyes-on with Micro Optics Display, lets them see the future