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]

Virtual Segway tours using the Wii Balance Board

Take a tour of anywhere on earth without leaving your home. This virtual Segway tour uses the Wii Fit Balance Board and Google Earth to let the rider control a virtual tour by leaning in the direction they want to travel. It’s the product of a hackathon at SVI Hackspace, a new hackerspace in Stanford’s Huang Engineering Center.

The project was undertaken by four people who had just met for the first time that night. Seven hours later, they had a working system that combines a huge number of software packages; OS X, Osculator, Node.js, Socket.io, the Google Earth API, Monster Milk Truck, and Google 3D Warehouse. Most of those packages are used to get the board talking to the computer and then interpreting the data. Monster Milk Truck – which we had never heard of – is a plugin that lets you drive through Google Earth environments using button presses and arrows (which are simulated by the balance board data translations).

This is a nice complement to some of the other balance board hacks we’ve seen, like the one used to control World of Warcraft. Don’t forget to peek at the video after the break.

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