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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More bike-controlled Google-travelling

This is becoming such a popular hack we figure someone needs to come up with a name for it like Google-travelling or Google-cising (exercising with Google). It’s a bike controller for Google Earth. [Braingram] broke out his road bike, setting it up in the trainer in front of his laptop. If you already have a computer with a cadence sensor this will be a snap. These measure the crank rotation using a magnet and reed switch. So as not screw up his summer biking [Braingram] spliced into the sensor while leaving it attached to the bike computer. From there it is read by an Arduino which also monitors an analog joystick attached to the handlebars. A little bit of Python scripting and you’ll be ready to go.

Be sure to check out some of the other variants like using an exercise bike, or adding a wearable display.

Flight simulator but you’re the plane

[Rafael Mizrahi] built a flight simulator that lets him fly like Ironman. As you can see in the video after the break, the hardware involves an automotive crane, hang gliding harness, plus the wings and tail from a UAV. A giant fan pointed at the wearer allows him to use the wings and tail to maneuver while the Wii remote strapped to his chest tracks the movement and feeds it to Google Earth Flight Simulator which is seen through the head-mounted display. We’re used to seeing intense flight simulators but this is something completely different.

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Another stationary bike VR rig

[Shingo] shared his implementation of a stationary bike as a virtual reality interface. This is similar to the Google Street View setup we covered a week ago but goes a few steps further. They patched into the bike computer to pick up rotation of the bicycle wheel and added an accelerometer for directional control. This setup can navigate through Street View but the video after the break also details an interface with Google Earth and even the ability to navigate through Second Life, following your avatar as it bikes along with you. The use of a wearable display is far superior to something like the SurfShelf and really gives you a goal other than just some cold-weather exercise. So take this idea, patch it into a wearable computer and you’ve got the exercise setup worthy of the future world we’ve been promised.

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