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Lunar nanobots could bring AR gaming to the moon

Would you like to play a game on the moon? A new business concept could let Earth-bound gamers play with nanobots on the lunar surface.

This nanobot concept could take gaming all the way to the moon.

If the European Space Agency has its way, gaming is going to be out of this world. 

Lunatix, a company created by a team of space engineers, developed a camera-equipped, jumping nanobot that would be used in augmented reality scenarios on the moon. Gamers would control the robots from Earth, though they'd experience slight delays as the signals travel to the moon and back. 

The Lunatix nanobots concept came about through the ESA's SpaceTech 2016 program, which called on participants to design profitable space businesses. The nanobots would be a key part of a augmented-reality game that would generate revenue through monthly subscriptions. The Lunatix team's plan is to first develop a game using virtual nanobots in a simulated moon environment to boost interest before deploying the actual hardware.

"After raising initial enthusiasm among Earth's 1.8 billion gamers with controlling a virtual Nanobot on a simulated lunar surface, there will be the possibility to control real Nanobots. on the Moon, in Pokemon Go!-style augmented reality scenarios," the ESA said on Wednesday

If the nanobots are sent to the moon, they'd be based in a rover that would shelter and charge them over the long lunar night. They'd also take advantage of the moon's low gravity to jump as high as 10 feet (3 meters) and as far as 33 feet (10 meters). 

Communicating with the nanobots will involve a delay of roughly 3 seconds, according to Jon Reijneveld, an Airbus Defence and Space system engineer who contributed to the project.

The Lunatix team expects development and deployment of the nanobots would take about four years. The finalized game would use real images and video from the moon. Some "exclusive users" would be able to buy an option that would allow them to control their own nanobot, according to a business plan

Lunatix is at the beginning stage of the project so It's hard to know if the gaming nanobots will become reality. Still, it's an intriguing concept. The team is already imagining a world beyond the moon, writing, "Once the validity of the business proposal has been demonstrated on the Moon, LUNATIX's next stop could be Mars!" 

That's an admirable ambition. 

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