LAKELAND, Fla. (WTSP) -- A student at Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland is teaming up with NASA to keep astronauts sane when they’re stuck in space for long periods of time.
James Holland had the idea for the project about a year ago. He dreamed of being an astronaut as a kid.
Since then, his childlike wonder has faded, but he’s still interested in space exploration.
“I'd rather help those who are brave enough to go into space while I sit here,” he said with a laugh.
He's developing technology that could change what astronauts wear, dubbed the "Happy Suit."
“I think it's definitely catchier than my original one. It was 'Smart Sensory Skin,'” he said.
The goal is to eventually put tiny sensors into clothing like gloves or a compression shirt. Ideally, the sensors would collect data from the astronaut, like heart rate or skin temperature. If they sense the astronaut's stressed, they could make changes to his surroundings in real time to counteract that.
“You can change the temperature, lighting, even sound,” Holland explained.
Holland's project first got his professor's attention. Then his school recognized it, and then NASA learned about it. NASA offered a $13,000 grant to pay for the research.
“That's kind of a jackpot, right? It's like a dream that you get the jackpot. That's what we want,” said one of Holland’s professors, Dr. Melba Horton.
Holland's working with another professor, Dr. Arman Sargolzaei, to develop a prototype by the summer.
The pair said they see a practical use for the project on earth as well. For example, imagine if your clothes could sense your skin temperature increasing, and turn on your air conditioning for you.