Mice Play In VR

Virtual Reality always seemed like a technology just out of reach, much like nuclear fusion, the flying car, or Linux on the desktop. It seems to be gaining steam in the last five years or so, though, with successful video games from a number of companies as well as plenty of other virtual reality adjacent technology that seems to be picking up steam as well like augmented reality. Another sign that this technology might be here to stay is this virtual reality headset made for mice.

These aren’t any ordinary pets out to take a pleasant jaunt through VR, though. These are lab mice from Cornell University that are helping to study various various aspects of neuroscience and behavior. The tiny headset is based on a Raspberry Pi and uses two small SPI-based displays with special lenses chosen and mounted specifically for a mouse’s field-of-view. The mouse will run on a Styrofoam ball that is attached to a separate set of sensors that can measure aspects of its motion.

While the project is still a work in progress, it’s an interesting solution to what would otherwise be a difficult problem to solve when studying mice in a laboratory setting. The team responsible for this effort has made their project available to the public as well and is asking for some help developing it, which can be found at the project’s GitHub page. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen rodents interacting with a virtual world, either. Who could forget this cryptocurrency-trading hamster?

9 thoughts on “Mice Play In VR

  1. Fusion, flying cars, desktop linux and VR are not in the same category. Fusion has been “20 years away” for >60 years – it should work but they haven’t worked out how yet, flying cars are already possible but so energy inefficient with such short flight times as to be useless, desktop Linux works perfectly (doesn’t subject you to any of the bugs or surveillance of MS Windows) it just isn’t hugely popular, VR works but not well enough for widespread adoption. All things that we’d like to have at mass scale, and don’t yet, but all with very diferent explanations as to why.

    1. I suppose the author meant floating cars, like in Back to the Future. Not lame propeller based models from a 1960s James Bond movie.. Second, virtual reality was a big thing in the late 80s/early 90s. In the mid-90s, cheap shutter glasses were readily available to the masses. Games like Descent supported them (DOS), as they did support the VFX-1 helmet with two miniarure NTSC/PAL LCD displays inside. Yet, VR still isn’t successful for some reason. Back then it was limited picture quality (field of view aka FOV, the eye straining shutter tech), now it’s price. 1000€ for a VR helmet is just insane, considering the cheap LCD technology of today. And then there are the specs needed.. Back then, a decent 486 PC could do VR just fine. Now you need a 5000€ PC. VR has become a luxury item more than ever. IMHO. I’m so depressed seeing VR dying a second time.

      1. VR is available fone on a $500 PC if you build it on a budget, $100-200 GPU very capable. $100 processor more than enough. Used Rift S or Oculus for $100 works well.

        The problem is the software game support and standards. Every developer is re inventing the technology and old software tech, such as jumping to a spot, then looking around, is still the standard. It is moving forward with things like ‘bob to walk’ that helps fight the nausea reflex with natural motion. You need to hack every game individually, which is a terrible system.

        You can fix some of this, but the proprietary things like being forced to log into Meta or Facebook are here to stay. I use Rift S on Steam, but am required to have a full Oculus install and login to use the hardware.

        I personally hate any vibration feature*, Rift S has no global option to disable, yet Oculus Quest 1 does. They use the same controllers and app on PC, this is ridiculous.

        *I am a very tactile individual, very used to machinery, tools and working on cars, vibration is the enemy, it means things aren’t working properly. The.crap nature of the rumble knocks me right out of immersion. I have taken apart almost every controller I’ve ever owned and as soon as the vibrate goes off I can visualize the off center mass causing the inaccurate motion. So no thanks. Its bad enough on Android, not sure if it is Samsung or my lousy carrier who removed the global off for vibration. But it is terrible. Also every app is allowed full control and most don’t have disable options.

    2. The author was being tongue in cheek about desktop Linux. The “Year of the Linux Desktop” is a self-deprecating joke meme among Linux users that THIS is the year when Linux desktop OS will surpass Windows in terms of number of users.

    3. I think VR is reaching widespread adoption now, especially with devices like the Quest 2 and similar hardware like Vive. I played 15 minutes of Audio Trip before work today, and was chatting to a colleague about Population One over coffee earlier, and a couple of colleagues and friends have Quest 2 headsets. My work owns 3 for VR presentations of our various facilities. Pop it on and play in near 4K with no cables. I watch movies, VR content and play games several times a week, so this stuff is out there, cheap (I paid £300 just before the Meta price hike) and there’s oodles of free content, e.g. YouTube VR, plus premium games and indie stuff, and even Amazon Prime now has VR content (not much!) in its Prime Video VR app. I think the Quest 2 is a superb piece of kit, and believe over 20 million have been sold now.

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