NASA International Space Apps Challenge 2016

NASA International Space Apps Challenge on 23rd April till 24th April 2016 is NASA’s hackathon held over 200 countries all over the world participating at the same time developing apps for NASA. This 48-hour event inspires citizen teamwork for positive change across every skill level and discipline. NASA invites engineers, coders, makers, artists and storytellers to connect over mission-related challenges.

In Malaysia, the challenge was held in Cyberjaya where 51 teams participated. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) team from Center for Artificial Intelligence Technology, Faculty of Information Science and Technology was represented by MyXLab (Mixed Reality and Pervasive Computing) researchers and students (Hameedurahman, Tan Siok Yee and Dr Lam Meng Chun) supervised by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Haslina Arshad. After the first round of evaluation, 15 teams were selected for the final round and UKM team made their way to the final round. The 15 teams then pitched infront of 5 judges from ANGKASA, CRADLE FUND, UKM, MICROSOFT and BOSTAMI AHMAD for the final round of evaluation. Their solutions were evaluated based on NASA’s criteria which are the Impact the app has on solving the problem, Creativity of the solution, Sustainability of the project and the team to continue their work beyond the event, Presentation in terms of effective story telling, and how well the Product meets the needs of the challenges it addresses.

UKM team presented a mobile app “VAR Space Onboard” which allows user to virtually experience rocket launch from NASA space station and also the astronaut’s life inside ISS such as Kibo, Columbus, Harmony and etc., in a simple and fun way. The Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality(VR) technologies were adopted to bring users to an immersive experience with 3D sound. In the app, the ISS image is being scanned using Augmented Reality technology to start the holo 3D visualization of the modules. Different virtual buttons are available for selection using eye gaze where upon activation, the 360 video of the corresponding space experience can be viewed through the Google Cardboard. With the advance technology of VR, AR, mobile, 360 video and Google Cardboard, experiencing the life of the astronaut inside the ISS or space and feeling the real rocket launch is being made possible with minimum cost at any time.

UKM team defeated the other 14 teams and bagged the 1st prize award of Japan Space Trip with sponsored flight and tour guide. It has been a great experience for the team to take part in NASA’s international event like this.