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Here’s Pi In Your Eye – HUD Goggles

[John Ohno] has found what is perhaps the best possible use for steampunk goggles: framing a monocular display for a Raspberry Pi-based wearable computer. [John]‘s eventual goal for the computer is a zzstructure-based personal organizer and general notifier. We covered [John]‘s zzstructure emulator to our great delight in July 2011. Go ahead and check that out, because it’s awesome. We’ll wait here.

[John] has been interested in wearable computing for some time, but is unimpressed with Google Glass. He had read up on turning head-mounted displays into monocular devices and recognized a great opportunity when his friend gave him most of an Adafruit display. With some steampunk goggles he’d bought at an anime convention, he started on the path to becoming a Gargoyle. He encountered a few problems along the way, namely SD card fail, display output issues, and general keep-the-parts-together stuff, but came out smelling like a rose. [John] has ideas for future input additions such as simple infrared eye tracking, the addition of a chording keyboard, and implementing a motorized glove for haptic learning. 

Want to make your own wearable display but have an aversion to steampunk? Check out this homebrew solution with (mostly) 3-D printed frames. And it has servos!

[Thanks John]

Oculus Rift Goes from Virtual to Augmented Reality

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[William Steptoe] is a post-doctoral research associate at University College London. This means he gets to play with some really cool hardware. His most recent project is an augmented reality update to the Oculus Rift. This is much more than hacking a pair of cameras on the Rift though. [William] has created an entire AR/VR user interface, complete with dockable web browser screens. He started with a stock Rift, and a room decked out with a professional motion capture system. The Rift was made wireless with the addition of an ASUS Wavi and a laptop battery system. [William] found that the wireless link added no appreciable latency to the Rift. To move into the realm of augmented reality, [William] added a pair of Logitech C310 cameras. The C310 lens’ field of view was a bit narrow for what he needed, so lenses from a Genius WideCam F100 were swapped in. The Logitech cameras were stripped down to the board level, and mounted on 3D printed brackets that clip onto the Rift’s display. Shapelock was added to the mounts to allow the convergence of the cameras to be easily set.

Stereo camera calibration is a difficult and processor intensive process. Add to that multiple tracking systems (both the 6DOF head tracking on the Rift, and the video tracker built-in to the room) and you’ve got quite a difficult computational process. [William] found that he needed to use a Unity shader running on his PC’s graphics card to get the system to operate in real-time.  The results are quite stunning. We didn’t have a Rift handy to view the 3D portions of [William's] video. However,  the sense of presence in the room still showed through. Videos like this make us excited for the future of augmented reality applications, with the Rift, the upcoming castAR, and with other systems.

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InfinitEye HMD Brings 210 Degree FOV to the Party

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Head mounted displays are coming in hot and heavy this year. InfinitEye doesn’t have an official web page yet, so we’re linking to a review done by TheRoadToVR. Note that this is the second version of the display. InfinitEye released plans for their V1 HMD back in February. The InfinitEye prototype looks strikingly like the early Oculus Rift prototypes. Gaffers tape and what appears to be the frame from a face shield hold together the optical system. It’s this optical system which is interesting. InfinitEye has decided to go with head mounted LCD screens, similar to the rift, and unlike castAR’s projection system.

The InfinitEye team decided to go with two screens, giving them a whopping 1280×800 resolution per eye. The optics are also simple – fresnel lenses. This is all similar to the first version of the goggles, however the InfinitEye team claims that this new edition provides a 210 degree field of view. What we don’t know is exactly what they changed. We’re curious if the wider field of view will reduce the Sim Sickness some of us have felt with the rift – though to be fair, almost any head mounted display requires some time to adjust. What we are sure of is that the future is bright for virtual (and augmented) reality.

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Projecting video directly onto the retina

With the head-mountable, augmented reality Google Glass capturing tons of attention in the press, it was only a matter of time before we saw a DIY retina projector. This isn’t a new build; [Nirav] has been working on it for a few months, but it might just be time for this information to be useful to someone.

A retina projector focuses laser light though beam splitters and concave mirrors to create a raster display on the back of your eye. There’s an incredible amount of research into this field, but not many DIY projects. To make this project a reality, [Nirav] picked up a SHOWWX laser video projector and mounted it in a 3D printed frame along with a few pieces of optical equipment.

[Nirav]‘s build isn’t without its drawbacks, though. The exit pupil, or the apparent size of the image, is only about 1.5 mm wide and much too small to be of any real use. Also, commercial retina projectors have an output of a puny 2 microwatts, where [Nirav]‘s laser projector puts out 200 millwatts. This is more than enough to permanently damage your eye.

Google’s Project Glass and other head-mounted displays

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, Google announced Project Glass, a real life head-mounted computer that’s actually useful. Glass is one of the projects being developed by Google X, the super-cool R&D department inside Google. On board are [Babak Parviz], [Steve Lee] and [Sebastian Thrun] (a.k.a. the guy you learned AI from last year).

Apart from an awesome video put up by the Google Glass team, there’s not much to go on. No hardware descriptions apart from concept pics, and nothing about software, the speech input, or even a complete list of features. Until that info is finalized it’s up to all the makers, hackers, and builders out there to figure out how to use a head-mounted display in public without getting strange looks. Here’s a few wearable computers and head mounted displays we’ve seen over the years:

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Monocular Head Mounted Display

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[Xenonjon] wanted to make a Heads Up Display that he could use while maintaining the ability to see. The most logical choice was a monocular set up.  He had an old Eye-Trek laying around and decided to sacrifice it to make his Heads Up Display. Combining a screen from his TV glasses and a wireless security camera setup, he was able to achieve an untethered monocular HUD. This has a multitude of uses, from displaying vital information, to home made night vision, or just watching TV while you work.

There’s plenty of good pictures and information there. The final result is a pair of safety glasses with the display and a pack that you have to put on your belt that holds batteries and the wireless receiver.  It seems as though it isn’t horribly cumbersome, but we’d have to try it for a while to say if it would be ergonomically sound.