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]

12 thoughts on “Oculus Rift And Wii Balance Board Make Hoverboards A (Virtual) Reality

  1. Besides the back to the future theme, the blue glowing underneath the board, the barely working balance board interface; Whats the difference between this and tony hawks pro skater? Is there any info on the development besides reddit?

    1. I agree, he should use this as his input device:

      But besides from this: I’m pretty stunned! There are some Oculus-Videos out there, but this one really made me think “How should we ever go back after this”. Look at it! I would love to skate recklessly around a skatepart with this impact on Immersion, WITHOUT getting hurt, damage private property or getting justice upon me.

      I say, give it a couple of years. This gonna come soner or later, because it is possible. And I welcome this possibility. Two steps forward, one step back. Anyone jumping on this will be somewhere in 6 years. I like Turtles.

  2. We have done a flying carpet simulator back in the day, using the DDR dance mat and magnetic tracker for the head (few old pictures here: http://trac.openscenegraph.org/projects/osg//wiki/Screenshots/SensoramaLab)

    However, people got sick. Some even fell over. And that was using a large projection screen, not a fully occlusive HMD. Rift would only make the problem worse.

    The main problem is that this type of application *MASSIVELY* messes up with your sense of balance. You have your feet close together on the mat/balance board and have to lean around *while* the world around you is spinning and moving and still while your inner ear is telling your brain you are actually still and upright on the board. No amount of extra position tracking will fix that – we had a full 6DOF tracking there.

    Assuming that the issues of latency, image smearing and similar are solved and are not causing motion sickness due to hw inadequacies, then the only way for this type of applications to not make you sick is an actual 6DOF motion platform that you would be strapped to and that would give your brain balance signals matching what your are seeing.

    1. Those feelings you described, are they constant?
      I fully understand that people get sick, fall over and had massive trouble with their self balancing. But… is this not the point of all this? I mean, ask someone after his first Basejump or Skydive. They can tell you same things after the first jump. But differnt to the VR, the real world, has a high tipping point where fear and anxiety is very fast converted to happyness and all general feelings that dopamin/adrenalin is able to stimulate in the human mind, based on various sensual inpacts (Balance, Sight, Skin-impression, etc.).

      Would you think too, that the development of sensor -> HID communication could be improved in the next 10 Years? Or do you think that the basic concept of mapping a VR on a human sensation, is not possible because of one certain fact

      (your answere here)

      1. People get seasick for largely the same reason – the cabin environment is fixed while the center of gravity moves around as the ship is sailing.

        If this is the same mechanism as seasickness, then people will get used to it over time – sailing ship crews (and captains) during the British Empire age were frequently seasick the first few days out after an extended shore leave.

        Apparently, sea legs are not permanent. Take an extended shore leave (several months) and when you go back to sea you have to go through the process again.

        Any long-term sailors care to comment?

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