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NASA is asking the public to design smartwatch apps for its astronauts

NASA

NASA is looking to capitalize on the growing smartwatch trend, and it needs your help to do so. The space agency is hosting a contest with Freelancer.com, challenging participants to design the best smartwatch app that could be used by astronauts on the International Space Station. The best app designer will receive $1,500.

Overall, NASA wants an app that will help keep the astronauts a little more organized — as well as one that will keep them safe. The app needs a timer and a way to easily display the crew's calendars and agendas for each day; it also needs to send them warnings or alerts in case they are in danger, perhaps if they need to find shelter from orbital debris. Additionally the app should let astronauts know when the ISS is in a position to communicate with ground control.

NASA is turning more to crowdsourcing methods to help come up with innovative designs

Those interested in designing the app should make it compatible with the Samsung Gear 2 (sorry Apple Watch) and present their ideas as pictures "highlighting the unique design’s navigation, interaction, layout, look, feel, etc." There are less than four weeks remaining in the contest, and only six people have joined so far, so the competition is still thin. But with 16 million users registered at Freelancer.com, that pool probably will grow.

NASA is turning more to crowdsourcing methods to help come up with innovative designs and engineering ideas for its space missions. In May NASA announced its "Journey to Mars Challenge," which asked the general public to come up with ways to keep Martian astronauts safe while needing limited resupplies from Earth. The space agency also teamed up with Freelancer.com in July, asking for new tool designs to be used by Robonaut 2 — the humanoid robot on the ISS.