The following article, New Wearable Device Made To Help Astronauts From Getting Lost In Space, was first published on Flag And Cross.
A new wearable device for astronauts may prevent them from getting lost in space.
The gadget works by using vibrotactile sensors, which vibrate to give location cues while traveling through space.
It was developed with the hope of improving the risks associated with disorientation during spaceflight.
Spatial disorientation can be deadly for astronauts – when leaving the earth’s surface, humans lose many of the cues we need to orient ourselves, leaving astronauts at risk of losing their sense of direction completely.
Astronauts normally need intensive training to protect against this – but scientists now hope the new device may make space travel safer.
Dr. Vivekanand Vimal of Brandeis University in Massachusetts said: “Long duration spaceflight will cause many physiological and psychological stressors which will make astronauts very susceptible to spatial disorientation.
“When disoriented, an astronaut will no longer be able to rely on their own internal sensors which they have depended on for their whole lives.”Researchers developed the sensor by using sensory deprivation and a multi-axis rotation device to test their vibrotactors in simulated spaceflight, so the senses participants would normally rely on were useless.
Thirty participants were recruited, of whom 10 received training to balance in the rotation device, 10 received the vibrotactors, and the remaining 10 received both.
All participants were given a blindfold, earplugs, and white noise to listen to.
Those with vibrotactors had four strapped to each arm, which would buzz when they moved away from the balance point.
Each participant took part in 40 trials, aiming to keep the rotation device as close to the balance point as possible.
Nearly all participants reported that they trusted the device, as well as performing better than those who only received training.
The training-only group crashed more frequently, moved around the balance point more, and accidentally destabilized themselves often.
As the trials continued, the group that received both training and vibrotactors performed best.
Dr. Vimal added: “A pilot’s cognitive trust in this external device will most likely not be enough.
“Instead, the trust has to be at a deeper, almost sub-cognitive, level. To achieve this, specialized training will be required.”
Following further testing with the sensors, developers have indicated there are possible further applications for their use in spaceflight – from helping astronauts land safely on the surface of a planet to supporting them as they move outside a vehicle in space.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
Edited by Saba Fatima and Newsdesk Manager
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