OpenVR: Building an Oculus Rift for only $150

Home Made Oculus Rift The Oculus Rift is a really cool piece of kit, but with its future held in the grasp of Facebook, who knows what it’ll become now. So why not just build your own? When the Oculus first came out [Ahmet] was instantly intrigued — he began researching virtual reality and the experience offered by the Oculus — but curiosity alone wasn’t enough for the $300 price tag. He held off until he had a useful purpose for it, and as it turns out he did — he builds and flies multicopters, for which an FPV setup would be super handy!

Other FPV setups cost close to $300 as well, so getting a device with more features just makes sense. Promptly after realizing this, he faced the Maker’s Dilemma: Buy it, or build it? To test the waters, he decided to order some aspheric lenses to do some quick tests with a smart phone and a ghetto cardboard box setup — the results were surprisingly good. No turning back now!
The hardware consists of:

  • 5.6″ 1280×800 LCD
  • 3D printed enclosure
  • 12V power adapter
  • USB to TTL
  • 50mm aspheric lenses (5X zoom)
  • Arduino Mini Pro
  • GY-85 9DOF IMU
  • Various wires, foam padding, and glue

The majority of the cost here is in the LCD, with everything else being pretty inexpensive. Once it’s all built (details on his blog), it is time to get the software, downloaded right off of GitHub. The rest is pretty self-explanatory — just take a look at the results! We’re even tempted to build one now. Videos below.

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Ecstatic Computation: Exploring Technoshamanism with Virtual Reality

A Digital Shaman

Here’s a really clever use for the Oculus Rift — Ecstatic Computation, a virtual reality spirit journey.

[Michael Allison] began his university career as an artist and musician… and somehow down the line, became a Technoshaman. His thesis, presented at ITP 2014, is on computational art, virtual reality, cognitive psychology and his research on various religious, spiritual and scientific methods that try to explain the relationship between our bodies, minds and the universe itself.

Using virtual reality, Ecstatic Computation is a ritual that explores the merging of consciousness and quantum energy in the physio-chemical registration of state within the computer’s memory. The moment when human and computer become one; the moment when thought becomes bit and electrons become ideas.

Sound crazy? Maybe — but check out the video demonstrations after the break. To create this experience he’s using an Oculus Rift, a Microsoft Kinect, a fan, a small keyboard and of course a computer to render it all. During the participant’s journey, [Michael] leads them in flight, passing through a quantum tunnel, merging with quantum energy inside of state registration within the computer’s memory and finally ending by falling into infinity.

All the graphics and effects are generated on the fly using GLSL generation using a robust graphics rendered called Smolder which he wrote himself, which is built on top of Cinder.

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CastAR and Holographic Print Preview for 3D Printers!

CastAR and 3D printing

Google glasses this, Oculus rift that, CastAR… With all these new vision devices coming out, the world of augmented reality is fast becoming, well, a reality!

Here’s a really cool concept [Ryan Smith] came up for 3D printing. Using [Jeri Ellsworth's] CastAR, [Ryan Smith] has created a really cool technical illusion to demonstrate visual prototyping on his Makerbot. Using a laser cutter he’s perforated the front plastic panel of the Makerbot, which allows a semi-transparent overlay that when you use the CastAR’s projector it gives you a holographic visual effect.

The glasses track the reference object (in this case, the gear) and then project interfacing gears in an animation over-top of the existing part. [Ryan] sees this as the next step in 3D printing for artists and makers because it can help give you a 3D preview of your part, for example if you’re not fully sure what scale you want it to print at, you could actually put a mating object, or your hand, behind the screen and visually see the interface!
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Oculus Rift and Wii Balance Board make Hoverboards a (Virtual) Reality

It’s almost 2015 and still don’t have the futuristic technology promised to us by Back to the Future Part II. Where are the flying cars, Mr. Fusions, or 19 Jaws movies? Most importantly, where are our hoverboards?

[cratesmith] got tired of waiting around and decided to take matters into his own hands. He combined the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset with the Wii Fit Balance Board to create a virtual hoverboard experience. He used the Unity3D engine (a favorite among Rift developers) to program the game engine. It’s a very rough demo right now, but the game comes complete with a simulated town to float around in and of course includes a model DeLorean.

Before you try to play this demo, you should know that it’s not without its faults. The primary problem [cratesmith] has experienced is with simulation sickness. His virtual reality system has no way to track body motion, which means that leaning back and forth on the Wii Fit board does not get translated to the equivalent virtual movement. The game must assume that the player stands straight up at all times, which is not an intuitive way to control something similar to a skateboard. The result is an off-putting experience that can break immersion and lead to a feeling of nausea.

A possible solution to this problem would be to use a camera style motion detector like the Microsoft Kinect. In fact, another Reddit user has recently posted a teaser video of another hoverboard simulator that uses the Oculus Rift, Wii Fit Board, and Kinect. Not much information is available about this second project, but we look forward to seeing updates in the future.

[createsmith] has not published the code for his demo because it’s still in the very early stages, but he has stated that he’s been giving it out to anyone who goes out of their way to ask. The hoverboard is probably the most coveted fictional technology from the 1989 adventure film. We know this because we’ve seen multiple projects over the years that were inspired by the movie.  We’re excited to see it come to fruition in any form.

[via Reddit]

Augmented Reality with an FPGA

 

bruceinabox

 

[Julie Wang] has created an augmented reality system on a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). Augmented reality is nothing new – heck, these days even your tablet can do it. [Julie] has taken a slightly different approach though. She’s not using a processor at all. Her entire system, from capture, to image processing, to VGA signal output, is all instantiated in a FPGA.

Using the system is as simple as holding up a green square of cardboard. Viewing the world through an old camcorder, [Julie's] project detects and tracks the green square. It then adds a 3D image of Cornell’s McGraw Tower on top of the green. The tower moves with the cardboard, appearing to be there. [Julie] injected a bit of humor into the project through the option of substituting the tower for an image of her professor, [Bruce Land].

[Julie] started with an NTSC video signal. The video is captured by a DE2-115 board with an Altera Cyclone IV FPGA. Once the signal was inside the FPGA, [Julie's] code performs a median filter. A color detector finds an area of green pixels which are passed to a corner follower and corner median filter. The tower or Bruce images are loaded from ROM and overlaid on the video stream, which is then output via VGA.

The amazing part is that there is no microprocessor involved in any of the processing. Logic and state machines control the show. Great work [Julie], we hope [Bruce] gives you an A!

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Virtual Reality Gets Real with 3 Kinect Cameras

kinects-capture

No, that isn’t a scene from a horror movie up there, it’s [Oliver Kreylos'] avatar in a 3D office environment. If he looks a bit strange, it’s because he’s wearing an Oculus Rift, and his image is being stitched together from 3 Microsoft Kinect cameras.

[Oliver] has created a 3D environment which is incredibly realistic, at least to the wearer. He believes the secret is in the low latency of the entire system. When coupled with a good 3D environment, like the office shown above, the mind is tricked into believing it is really in the room. [Oliver] mentions that he finds himself subconsciously moving to avoid bumping into a table leg that he knows isn’t there. In [Oliver's] words, “It circumnavigates the uncanny valley“.

Instead of pulling skeleton data from the 3 Kinect cameras, [Oliver] is using video and depth data. He’s stitching and processing this data on an i7 Linux box with an Nvidia Geforce GTX 770 video card. Powerful hardware for sure, but not the cutting edge monster rig one might expect. [Oliver] also documented his software stack. He’s using Vrui VR Toolkit, the Kinect 3D Video Capture Project, and the Collaboration Infrastructure.

We can’t wait to see what [Oliver] does when he gets his hands on the Kinect One (and some good Linux drivers for it).

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