Cutting Ribbons with Robots and a Oculus Rift

PR2-GrandOpening

On June 26th, 2014, Clearpath Robotics opened up the doors to their brand new 12,000 square foot robot lair by bringing out a PR2 to cut the ceremonial ribbon and welcome everyone inside. And instead of just programming the ‘locate and destroy’ ribbon sequence, the co-founders opted to use an Oculus Rift to control the robot tearing through the material with flailing arms.

This was accomplished having Jake, the robot, utilize a Kinect 2.0 that fed skeleton tracking data via rosserial_windows, a windows-based set of extension for the Robot Operating System which we heard about in January. The software gathers in a stream of data points each with an X,Y,Z component allowing [Jake] to find himself within a 3D space.Then, the data was collected and published directly into the PR2’s brain. Inject a little python code, and the creature was able to route directions in order to move it’s arms.

Thus, by simply stepping in front of the Kinect 2.0, and putting on the Oculus Rift headset, anyone could teleoperate [Jake] to move around and wave its arms at oncoming ribbons. Once completed, [Jake] would leave the scene, journeying back into the newly created robot lair leaving pieces of nylon and polyester everywhere.

An earlier (un-smoothed) version of the full system can be seen after the break:

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Non-Lethal Electric Chair Brings the Death Row Experience Home

Non-Lethal electric chair for Oculus Rift Hackathon

One of our trusty tipsters named [Arman] wrote in to tell us about this awesome little Horror VR Hackathon that sought to create a non-lethal electric chair, for a seriously creepy and shocking experience.

[Arman] works in a small prototyping shop, so when a few guys from the local VR group called to ask for help building a non-lethal electric chair, he thought they were joking — until they showed up at the shop! Finally understanding what they really wanted to do, he hooked them up with an EL wire power supply (high voltage AC, low amperage) for their first prototype.

Unfortunately the EL power supply driver took too much juice, so they called [Arman] back the next day to hack together some of those joke gum shockers instead — he hooked them up to an Arduino and they work like a charm.  [Read more...]

Virtual Physical Reality With Kintinuous And An Oculus Rift

oculus

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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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]

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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