Written byGreg Otto
A Canadian duo has won a NASA contest, designing a stopwatch/timer app for a smartwatch that may be used by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.
NASA’s International Tournament Lab, in conjunction with crowdsourcing marketplace Freelancer.com, Monday announced the winners of its Astronaut Smartwatch App Interface Design challenge. With the explosion in smartwatches over the past 18 months, NASA wants to use the technology by crowdsourcing designs for apps that would be used by astronauts.
Participants were tasked with wireframing an app for use on Samsung’s Gear 2 smartwatch. NASA asked for a timing app with a unique navigation, interaction and layout that could combine multiple applications. The app needed to have the ability to manipulate multiple timers, display color-coded cautions and warnings, a way to easily navigate to prior or future countdowns and the ability to display whether an astronaut is able to communicate with their team on the ground.
Two Canadians — mechanical engineer Jocelyn Richard and UX designer Ignacio Calvo — won the challenge with their B app, which allows astronauts to complete the challenge’s tasks with nothing more than a few swipes or pinches. The team was awarded $1,500 in prize money.
“It’s really awesome that NASA would open its design process, regardless of the outcome,” Richard said. “Winning seems both incredible and rewarding; I’m really, really happy if our concept helps NASA in its great endeavors.”
The next step is for NASA to build on top of the app. A Freelancer.com representative tells FedScoop that the basic development work will be done on the site platform, with work expected to commence once NASA’s funding for 2016 comes through.
Some of NASA’s most famous astronauts depended on wristwatches during the Apollo missions. The Omega Speedmaster was used during a number of Apollo missions, due to the ancillary dials embedded in the watch’s face, an on-board stopwatch and a tachymeter used to measure speed.
The challenge is one of many that Freelancer.com has hosted over the past few months. Among those contests were computer-aided design models of tools that will be used with NASA’s humanoid robot aboard the ISS and apps designed for use on the agency’s Disruption Tolerant Networking protocol.