Talk about playing on hard mode! The news this week was rife with stories about Palmer Luckey’s murder-modified VR headset, which ostensibly kills the wearer if their character dies in-game. The headset appears to have three shaped charges in the visor pointing right at the wearer’s frontal lobe, and would certainly do a dandy job of executing someone. In a blog post that we suspect was written with tongue planted firmly in cheek, Luckey, the co-founder of Oculus, describes that the interface from the helmet to the game is via optical sensors that watch the proceeding on the screen, and fire when a certain frequency of flashing red light is detected. He’s also talking about ways to prevent the removal of the headset once donned, in case someone wants to tickle the dragon’s tail and try to quickly rip off the headset as in-game death approaches. We’re pretty sure this isn’t serious, as Luckey himself suggested that it was more of an office art thing, but you never know what extremes a “three commas” net worth can push someone to.
There’s light at the end of the Raspberry Pi supply chain tunnel, as CEO Eben Upton announced that he foresees the Pi problems resolving completely by this time next year. Upton explains his position in the video embedded in the linked article, which is basically that the lingering effects of the pandemic should resolve themselves over the next few months, leading to normalization of inventory across all Pi models. That obviously has to be viewed with some skepticism; after all, nobody saw the supply chain issues coming in the first place, and there certainly could be another black swan event waiting for us that might cause a repeat performance. But it’s good to hear his optimism, as well as his vision for the future now that we’re at the ten-year anniversary of the first Pi’s release.
Feeling confined by the “traditional” cyberdeck form factor, [adam] decided to build something a little bigger with his Cyberpack VR. If you’ve ever dreamed of being a WiFi-equipped porcupine, then this is the cyberdeck you’ve been waiting for.
Craving the upgradability and utility of a desktop in a more portable format, [adam] took an old commuter backpack and squeezed in a Windows 11 PC, Raspberry Pi, multiple wifi networks, an ergonomic keyboard, a Quest VR headset, and enough antennas to attract the attention of the FCC. The abundance of network hardware is due to [adam]’s “new interest: a deeper understanding of wifi, and control of my own home network even if my teenage kids become hackers.”
The Quest is setup to run multiple virtual displays via Immersed, and you can relax on the couch while leaving the bag on the floor nearby with the extra long umbilical. One of the neat details of this build is repurposing the bag’s external helmet mount to attach the terminal unit when not in use. Other details we love are the toggle switches and really integrated look of the antenna connectors and USB ports. The way these elements are integrated into the bag makes it feel borderline organic – all the better for your cyborg chic.
The Oculus brand VR headset and other similar devices allow you to view 3D worlds, but they can be blurry and unsatisfying if you’re a glasses wearer. Alternatively, you might be able to see fine, but find your glasses get in the way of a comfortable experience. Either way, you might want to integrate prescription lenses into your headset, and thankfully, there’s a straightforward way to do so thanks to [tanvach].
The way to do so is by using these 3D-printed lens adaptors. They take standard single vision lenses as designed for the Zenni #550021 round glasses frames, and let them fit nicely inside a Oculus Quest, Quest 2, or Rift S headset. [tanvach] supplies instructions on how to order the lenses for your own prescription, and notes that the key is to get the antireflective coating to reduce glare. And, if you don’t want to print your own adapters, you can source some pre-printed instead!
The adapters are a great way to improve your VR experience if you’re someone that typically relies on corrective lenses. Of course, it’s getting more popular to simply DIY your own headset these days, too. If you’ve got your own neat VR project in the works, don’t hesitate to let us know!
There was a time when virtual reality seemed like it would remain in the realm of science fiction at least for the foreseeable future. Then we were blessed with products like the Power Glove and Virtual Boy which seemed to make it more of a reality, if not a clunky and limited one. Now, though, virtual reality is taking more of a center stage as the technology for it improves and more and more games are released. We can see no greater proof of this than the fact that some gamers are building their own custom controllers to interact with the virtual world in more meaningful ways, like this game controller specifically built for first-person shooter games.
The controller is based on an airsoft gun but completely lacks the ability to fire a projectile, instead using the gun as a base for building the controller. In fact, the gun’s operation is effectively reversed in order to immerse the player into the game by using haptic feedback provided by pressurized air. The air is pumped in to what would be the front of the barrel and is discharged through the receiver when a trigger pull is detected in order to generate a recoil effect. The controller includes plenty of other features as well, including the ability to reload ammunition, change the firing mode, and track motion thanks to its pair of integrated Oculus controllers.
All of the parts for this controller are either 3D printed or readily available off-the-shelf, making this an ideal platform for customization and improvement. There’s also a demo game available from Unity which allows for a pretty easy setup for testing. While the controller looks like an excellent way to enjoy an FPS virtual reality experience, if you’re looking for a more general-purpose controller we are also starting to see a lot of development on that end as well.
The Oculus Go is Android-based and has specifications that are not exactly cutting edge by VR standards, especially since head tracking is limited to three degrees of freedom (DoF). This makes it best suited to seated applications like media consumption. That said, it’s still a remarkable amount of integrated hardware that can be available for a low price on the secondary market. Official support for the Go ended in December 2020, and the ability to completely unlock the device is a positive step towards rescuing the hardware from semi-hoarded tech junk piles where it might otherwise simply gather dust.
It’s not a jailbreak, but [basti564]’s Oculess software nevertheless allows one the option to remove telemetry and account dependencies from Facebook’s Oculus Quest VR headsets. It is not normally possible to use these devices without a valid Facebook account (or a legacy Oculus account in the case of the original Quest), so the ability to flip any kind of disconnect switch without bricking the hardware is a step forward, even if there are a few caveats to the process.
To be clear, the Quest devices still require normal activation and setup via a Facebook account. But once that initial activation is complete, Oculess allows one the option of disabling telemetry or completely disconnecting the headset from its Facebook account. Removing telemetry means that details about what apps are launched, how the device is used, and all other usage-related data is no longer sent to Facebook. Disconnecting will log the headset out of its account, but doing so means apps purchased from the store will no longer work and neither will factory-installed apps like Oculus TV or the Oculus web browser.
What will still work is the ability to sideload unsigned software, which are applications that are neither controlled nor distributed by Facebook. Sideloading isn’t on by default; it’s enabled by putting the headset into Developer Mode (a necessary step to installing Oculess in the first place, by the way.) There’s a fairly active scene around unsigned software for the Quest headsets, as evidenced by the existence of the alternate app store SideQuest.
Facebook just announced their plans for the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset. You probably won’t be surprised, but they want more of your user data, and more control over how you use the hardware. To use the device at all, you’ll need a verified Facebook account. Worse, they’re restricting access to the wide world of community-developed applications by requiring a developer account to be able to “sideload” non-Facebook software onto the device. Guess who decides who gets to be a developer. Hint: it’s not the people developing software.
Our article suggests that this will be the beginning of a race to jailbreak the headset on the community’s part, and to get ahead of the hackers on Facebook’s. Like every new release of iOS gets a jailbreak within a week or two, and then Apple patches it up as fast as they can, are we going to see a continual game of hacker cat-and-mouse with Facebook?
I don’t care. And that’s not because I don’t care about open hardware or indie VR developers. Quite the opposite! But like that romance you used to have with the girl who was absolutely no good for you, the toxic relationship with a company that will not let you run other people’s games on their hardware is one that you’re better off without. Sure, you can try to fix it, or hack it. You can tell yourself that maybe Facebook will come around if you just give them one more chance. It’s going to hurt at first.
But in the end, there is going to be this eternal fight between the user and the company that wants to use them, and that’s just sad. I used to look forward to the odd game of cat and mouse, but nowadays the cats are just too well bankrolled to make it a fair fight. If you’re buying a Quest 2 today with the intent of hacking it, I’d suggest you spend your time with someone else. You’re signing up for a string of heartbreaks. Nip it in the bud. You deserve better. There are too many fish in the sea, right?
What are our options?
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