Head-Tracking NES Water Blaster Is Good Summer Fun

Super Soakers were great fun back in the day, but adults tend to get tired of the manual labour of pumping pretty quickly. [Sean] decided to build something a touch more modern, coming up with this head-tracking water blaster.

The water spray tracks the movement of the wearer’s head. With a camera mounted on the nozzle, this allows the user to simply look to designate targets. Similar technology is used in military fighter jets.

To eliminate pumping, the build instead enlists the services of an electric pump, powered by a 12 V battery. Pushing water through a tube into a 3D printed nozzle, it provides a fat stream of water with around 5 meters range, with little effort from the user. The nozzle is fitted into a NES Zapper, and attached to a servo pan-tilt platform. The camera is mounted on the water gun, and hooked up to a set of Fat Shark FPV goggles with an IMU unit. When the user looks around, the water gun moves in sync with their head movements. This allows for the user to look at targets to hit them with the water stream, a very intuitive method of aiming.

It’s a fun build that’s perfect for the summer, and an easy one to recreate for anyone with some spare servos and FPV gear. Of course, with a little face-tracking software, it would be easy to hit targets automatically. Video after the break.

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Up Your Game With DIY Headset Motion Tracking

While there’s been a lot of advancements in VR gaming over the last couple of years, plenty of folks are still happy enough to just stare at their monitor. But that’s not to say some of those fancy head-tracking tricks wouldn’t be a welcome addition to their repertoire. For players who are literally looking to get their head in the game, [Adrian Schwizgebel] has created qeMotion.

The idea here is simple enough: attach a motion sensor to a standard gaming headset (here a MPU-6050 IMU), and use the data from it to virtually “press” keys through USB HID emulation. Many first person shooter games offer the ability to lean left or right by pressing Q or E respectively, so all [Adrian] had to do was map the appropriate accelerometer readings to those keys for it to work seamlessly with popular titles such as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege and Insurgency.

The concept might be basic, but the execution is anything but. Rather than just duct taping an Arduino to his headset, [Adrian] designed a very slick 3D printed enclosure for the electronics that sits on his desk. While they haven’t all been implemented yet, the devices features indicator lights and buttons to switch through various modes. The sensor on the headset has similarly been encased in a very professional looking 3D printed box, complete with a nice braided cable to link it to the desk unit.

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a head tracking project, and most of those utilized something like the Wii Remote. Adding sensors to a person’s head normally wouldn’t be an ideal situation, but if you’re going to be wearing the headset anyway to listen to the game and chat, it’s not really a problem. If your hair is too nice for the qeMotion, you could always try doing something similar with computer vision.

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Open Source Headset With Inside-Out Tracking, Video Passthrough

The folks behind the Atmos Extended Reality (XR) headset want to provide improved accessibility with an open ecosystem, and they aim to do it with a WebVR-capable headset design that is self-contained, 3D-printable, and open-sourced. Their immediate goal is to release a development kit, then refine the design for a wider release.

An early prototype of the open source Atmos Extended Reality headset.

The front of the headset has a camera-based tracking board to provide all the modern goodies like inside-out head and hand tracking as well as the ability to pass through video. The design also provides for a variety of interface methods such as eye tracking and 6 DoF controllers.

With all that, the headset gives users maximum flexibility to experiment with and create different applications while working to keep development simple. A short video showing off the modular design of the HMD and optical assembly is embedded below.

Extended Reality (XR) has emerged as a catch-all term to cover broad combinations of real and virtual elements. On one end of the spectrum are completely virtual elements such as in virtual reality (VR), and towards the other end of the spectrum are things like augmented reality (AR) in which virtual elements are integrated with real ones in varying ratios. With the ability to sense the real world and pass through video from the cameras, developers can choose to integrate as much or as little as they wish.

Terms like XR are a sign that the whole scene is still rapidly changing and it’s fascinating to see how development in this area is still within reach of small developers and individual hackers. The Atmos DK 1 developer kit aims to be released sometime in July, so anyone interested in getting in on the ground floor should read up on how to get involved with the project, which currently points people to their Twitter account (@atmosxr) and invites developers to their Discord server. You can also follow along on their newly published Hackaday.io page.

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More Kinect Holograms From [programming4fun]

[programing4fun] has been playing around with his Kinect-based 3D display and building a holographic WALL-E controllable with a Windows phone. It’s a ‘kid safe’ version of his Terminator personal assistant that has voice control and support for 3d anaglyph and shutter glasses.

When we saw [programming4fun]’s Kinect hologram setup last summer we were blown away. By tracking a user’s head with a Kinect, [programming] was able to display a 3D image using only a projector. This build was adapted into a 3D multitouch table and real life portals, so we’re glad to see [programming4fun] refining his code and coming up with some really neat builds.

In addition to robotic avatars catering to your every wish, [programming4fun] also put together a rudimentary helicopter flight simulator controlled by tilting cell phone. It’s the same DirectX 9 heli from [programming]’s original build. with the addition of Desert Strike-esque top-down graphics. This might be the future of gaming here, so we’ll keep our eyes out for similar head-tracking 3D builds.

As always, videos after the break.

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Virtual Reality With A Pico Projector

Although virtual reality was the wave of the future in the early 90’s, it hasn’t really taken off the way we would have liked. Sometimes a great idea just takes time for the technology to catch up to it (Aeolipile anyone?). Now that tiny projectors, realistic FPS games, and eye tracking systems have come down in price, this head-tracking projection system engineered by students at University of Texas at Austin could be the start of something really neat.

Although we’ve seen some cool FPS/pico projector hacks before, most of them use the “gun” as the controller. This approach offers a a different experience as one isn’t required to carry a “gun” around. It simply tracks one’s eye movement and moves the projector automatically. Check out the video after the break to see this device in action. Continue reading “Virtual Reality With A Pico Projector”

Lego Head Tracking

lego_tracking

[Epoch] Sent in this simple head tracking project using Lego pieces. He’s made a custom mount to hold 3 Lego light sensors on a baseball cap. Then, after modifying his webcam for IR with some floppy disk scraps, he loads up the free-track software and can control his games. For convenience, he has programmed the Lego Nxt to only turn on the lights while he’s holding a contact sensor. You can see it in action after the break. This appears to be very similar to [Johnny Lee’s] head tracking. Judging by the video, it’s not as smooth though.

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