Will Astronauts Get iPads In Space?

The knobs and switches found in the spacecraft of the 1960's have been replaced by a glass cockpit, where the majority of commanding is done through software controls. Will astronauts be able to stop the old-fashioned (but eminently workable) twisting and flipping and go with the complex combination of taps, swipes, and swirls used on tablets?


(Concerns about tablets in space - NASA video)

“Many tasks performed inside a modern spacecraft will involve fine motor skills such as typing or interacting with a computer touchscreen,” says Kritina Holden, Principal Investigator for the Fine Motor Skills experiment now underway on the International Space Station. “In the future, astronauts will use portable computers for many tasks, including maintenance, training, medical treatment, science, time lining, and scheduling.”

It is well known that microgravity can have a detrimental effect on the human body—muscles atrophy, bones weaken, and the immune system doesn’t function properly. Are fine motor skills affected as well?

The Fine Motor Skills experiment aims to find out.

“We really haven’t seen problems, but this type of performance hasn’t really been measured systematically in space,” says Holden, who works for Lockheed Martin in Houston, Texas. “Some experiments have shown that tasks take longer in microgravity than on the ground, but no study has yet looked at the types of tests that are included in this investigation.”

The Fine Motor Skills experiment studies the effects of long-duration microgravity on the type of fine motor task performance required to interact with computer-based devices such as tablet computers with touchscreens. Crewmembers will complete four types of tasks on an iPad: pointing, dragging, shape tracing, and pinch-rotate.

“Our real concern is making sure that future crewmembers can use their computer-based devices with accuracy onboard and on a planetary surface after a long voyage, for example to Mars.”

Science fiction readers were treated to an early view of tablet computers in space. Fans of the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey got a clear view of a tablet computer right on the film's movie poster, which depicts an open pit dig on the lunar surface.


(Poster from 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey)

Here's what Arthur C. Clarke wrote in his book version 2001: A Space Odyssey about the newspad:

When he tired of official reports and memoranda and minutes, he would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship's information circuit and scan the latest reports from Earth. One by one he would conjure up the world's major electronic papers; he knew the codes of the more important ones by heart, and had no need to consult the list on the back of his pad...


(Tablet computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey poster)

In the book version, the newspad was only used in pressurized environments (as I recall). The movie poster version went a bit further; as my friend Winchell Chung - @nyrath points out, there are a few technical problems:

Via NASA.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/6/2016)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Humanity Star LEO Advertisement?
'Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements...' Jules Verne, 1889.

Bigelow Prepares Inflatable Lunar Hotel
'Suddenly, hitherto unheard-of sums of money became available for investment in civilian orbital stations.' - Carl Sagan, 1985.

NASA SEXTANT First With X-Ray Nav In Space
'You need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.' - Harry Harrison, 1956.

Subsurface Martian Ice Slabs Piece Of Cake For Miners
'One shy little fellow with bloodshot eyes of old-time drillman stood up. 'I'm an ice miner,' he said.' - Robert Heinlein, 1966.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

A 'Genuine Nanorobotic Production Factory'
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically, purposefully - constructing something...'

Neuromorphic Computer Offers Non-von Neumann Architecture
Fires faster than brain at 1/10K energy.

Evorus Your Crowd-Powered Conversational Assistant
'...the DS [Daily Schedule] was suddenly transformed into a valued confidante.'

Mealworms Food Of The Future
Get your grubs on.

Alibaba's AI May Read Better Than You
'Mike ... could accept other languages and was doing technical translating - and reading endlessly.'

Musk's Boring Flamethrower
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'

Humanity Star LEO Advertisement?
'Everyone has noticed those enormous advertisements...'

Nissan ProPILOT Slippers Are Self-Parking, Autonomous
Beyond science and fiction.

Atomristors - Atomic Memristors - Using Thin Nanomaterials
'I could almost feel those little tunnel junction neuristors working, forming their own interconnections as I operated it.'

Bigelow Prepares Inflatable Lunar Hotel
'Suddenly, hitherto unheard-of sums of money became available for investment in civilian orbital stations.'

Drunk Driver Of Tesla Claims Autopilot Was In Charge
'Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive.'

Medical Exoskeleton From Cyberdyne Gets FDA Approval
It's been a long road for HAL-5; I started writing about it in 2005.

Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'

Shiftwear Display Shoes
'He unlaced her shoe and glanced at its readout.'

NASA SEXTANT First With X-Ray Nav In Space
'You need at least four beacons for an accurate fix.'

GM Introduces Cruise AV With No Steering Wheel
'How about the steering wheel?' ... 'I do not need one.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.