The Crane Game, Oculus Style

crane We’re pretty sure the Hackaday demographic is a a person who sees a giant tower crane lifting beams and girders above a skyline and says, “that would be fun, at least until I have to go to the bathroom.” Realizing the people who own these cranes probably won’t let any regular joe off the street into the cabin, [Thomas] and [screen Name] (see, this is why we have brackets, kids) built their own miniature version with an Oculus Rift.

Instead of a crane that is hundreds of feet tall, the guys are using a much smaller version, just over a meter tall, that is remotely controlled through a computer via a serial connection. Just below the small plastic cab is a board with two wide-angle webcams. The video from these cameras are sent to the Oculus so the operator can see the boom swinging around, and the winch unwinding to pick up small objects.

The guys have also added a little bit of OpenCV to add color based object detection. This is somewhat useful, but there’s also an approximation of the distance to an object, something that would be very useful if you don’t have a three-inch tall spotter on the ground.

Video below.

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Third Person Perspective is Guaranteed to Mess With Your Senses

3rd person oculus rift

Third person video games are never really that realistic — you get a much wider range of vision, you can typically see around things your character can’t actually see… the list goes on. But what would it be like to have a third person perspective, in real life?

That’s exactly what some hackers in Poland decided to do! This is their Real World Third Person Perspective VR / AR Experiment. It makes use of an Oculus Rift, two GoPros, a microprocessor and a few servo motors. It’s essentially a glorified camera on a stick that you wear as a backpack, but nonetheless it has a really cool effect.

The project was built in under 2 days to get into the tight deadline for Intel’s Wearable contest, which has an impressive prize list, including a grand prize of $500,000 for business development! They didn’t place, but it’s still a Hack a Day worthy project!

Check it out!

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Hackaday Links: June 29, 2014


Ever see a really cool build on YouTube with no build details at all? Frustrating, right? That’s us with the NES Keytar covering the Game of Thrones theme. He’s using a Raspi with the sound chip in the NES to do live chiptunes. Freakin’ awesome. There’s also the ST:TNG theme as well.

A few years ago the folks at Oculus had an idea – because of cellphones, small, high resolution displays are really cheap, so why not make VR goggles? At Google IO this week someone figured out everyone already has a cellphone, so just wrap it in some cardboard and call it a set of VR goggles. You can get a kit here, but the only difficult to source components are the lenses.

What happens when you put liquid nitrogen under a vacuum? Well, it should evaporate more, get colder, and freeze. Then it breaks up into solid nitrogen snow. No idea what you would do with this, but there ‘ya go. Oh, [NC], we’re going to need a writeup of that LN2 generator.

About a month ago, the House4Hack hackerspace in South Africa told us of their plans to bring a glider down from 20km above the Earth. They finally launched it, The CAA only allowed them to glide back from 6km (20,000 feet), but even from there the foam glider hit 230kph (124 knots). That’s a little impressive for a foam FPV platform, and we’re betting something with a larger wingspan would probably break a spar or something. Shout out to HABEX.

All the electronic dice projects we’ve seen have one thing in common: they’re not cubes. Thus uberdice. It’s six nine-pixel displays on the faces of a cube, powered by a battery, and controlled by an accelerometer. Yes, it is by far the most complicated die ever made, but it does look cool.

Virtual Physical Reality With Kintinuous And An Oculus Rift


The Kinect has long been able to create realistic 3D models of real, physical spaces. Combining these Kinect-mapped spaces with an Oculus Rift is something brand new entirely.

[Thomas] and his fellow compatriots within the Kintinuous project are modeling an office space with the old XBox 360 Kinect’s RGB+D sensors. then using an Oculus Rift to inhabit that space. They’re not using the internal IMU in the Oculus to position the camera in the virtual space, either: they’re using live depth sensing from the Kinect to feed the Rift screens.

While Kintinuous is very, very good at mapping large-scale spaces, the software itself if locked up behind some copyright concerns the authors and devs don’t have control over. This doesn’t mean the techniques behind Kintinuous are locked up, however: anyone is free to read the papers (here’s one, and another, PDF of course) and re-implement Kintinuous as an open source project. That’s something that would be really cool, and we’d encourage anyone with a bit of experience with point clouds to give it a shot.

Video below.

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Oculus Rift + Head Tracking = The Ultimate Drone Experience

oculus rift quad

What happens when you strap a stereoscopic camera onto a drone and transmit the video feed directly to your Oculus Rift? A pretty amazing experience, that’s what!

Several students from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology recently finished a term project dubbed Oculus FPV. In it, [Erik Hals], [Jacob Prescott], [Mats Svensson], and [Mads Wilthil] succeeded in combining virtual reality, a head mounted display, and a UAV for a great result.

Drones with cameras are the next big step in search and rescue, remote inspection, and many other use cases in other environments that are typically inaccessible for a human to poke around. What we really like about this project is they also mounted the stereoscopic cameras on a gimbal, allowing for full head movement — this means the pilot can “park” (read “hover”) his drone in remote locations, and then look around, without having to worry about performing complex aerial acrobatics to get the right camera angle.

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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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