An experimental project to mix reality and virtual reality by [Drew Gottlieb] uses the Microsoft Hololens and the HTC Vive to show two users successfully sharing a single workspace as well as controllers. While the VR user draws cubes in midair with a simple app, the Hololens user can see the same cubes being created and mapped to a real-world location, and the two headsets can even interact in the same shared space. You really need to check ou the video, below, to fully grasp how crazy-cool this is.
Two or more VR or AR users sharing the same virtual environment isn’t new, but anchoring that virtual environment into the real world in a way that two very different headsets share is interesting to see. [Drew] says that the real challenge wasn’t just getting the different hardware to talk to each other, it was how to give them both a shared understanding of a common space. [Drew] needed a way to make that work, and you can see the results in the video embedded below.
With only a few days to devote to a proof of concept, [Drew] went with a quick and dirty solution. To align the virtual and real room spaces, the Hololens user begins by picking up a Vive controller and is prompted to manually align it with a floating virtual controller. Once the user has manually aligned these virtual and real world points, the software uses that intersection as an anchor to lock the real and virtual objects into the same understanding of space. This worked even better than expected, but there is some slight error because the manual alignment is never perfect. Being one degree off doesn’t make much noticeable difference near the alignment point but as you move further away the misalignment increases. [Drew] suggests that prompting the alignment of three points instead of just one would be a step to even better results.
The shared environment consists of a simple block-building application and is manipulated with the Vive controllers, but is independent of the actual headsets. As a result, you don’t need to actually use the VR headset. You can use the Hololens with the VR controllers and create some cubes in the middle of the room instead of in an empty virtual space. In addition, someone else can put on either the VR headset (or another Hololens) and not only see, but interact in the same environment.
If you have access to a Vive and a Hololens and would like to try it out for yourself, [Drew] has all the code available on GitHub.
Mixed Reality as a field is seeing a resurgence and is filled with interesting developments. We recently featured an article on how things got to where they are in both AR and VR. Interested in making your own innovations in this area? The upcoming tracking hardware for the Vive is explicitly made to make development of new ideas easier.