OnQ Blog

Hands-On with NASA’s Augmented Reality App

If you’ve ever wanted to play with robots and satellites that have been shot into space, you can now do that -- virtually. The NASA Spacecraft 3D app for iPhone and iPad uses augmented reality to let you get hands-on with robots and satellites that are currently in orbit.

NASA’s latest update to the app adds more spacecraft. Below is a quick hands on.

The app was built via Qualcomm’s Vuforia SDK. It uses your iPad/iPhone’s camera to see a “target” (typically a pattern printed on paper). The app includes a PDF of the target so you can print it out on your own. 

In main menu you can choose the spacecraft you’d like to view. After you make your selection, you place the target in front of the iPhone/iPad and voila, a 3D model spacecraft will appear on the screen. Twisting and moving the target will control the movement of the model.

I tinkered with the Curiosity, the spacecraft that’s currently roaming the surface of Mars. You can either move the target or you can issue movement commands from the app.  You can make robotic arms move back and forth, take photos with the spacecraft and even learn about it.  Watch the video below for more details.