In a highly innovative announcement in late 2014, NASA announced the organization is attempting to develop virtual reality-fueled multisensory experiences in order to keep astronauts on long-term missions sane. Working on the development is the University of Dartmouth's Digital Arts Leadership and Innovation Lab (DALI), which just received a $1.6 million grant from NASA in order to fund the research.
With some drawing comparisons to Star Trek's holo decks, NASA hopes that in developing virtual reality environments such as a beach or meadow, it can invest in the mental health of its astronauts while they are on mission. The DALI team is also working on developing digital therapists to curb depression and anxiety faced by astronauts in space.
This intriguing use of virtual technology to target the emotional isolation of a space mission is likely to inspire similar uses of multisensory experiences on earth.