Redeem Your Irresponsible 90s Self

If you were a youth in the 90s, odds are good that you were a part of the virtual pet fad and had your very own beeping Tamagotchi to take care of, much to the chagrin of your parents. Without the appropriate amout of attention each day, the pets could become sick or die, and the only way to prevent this was to sneak the toy into class and hope it didn’t make too much noise. A more responsible solution to this problem would have been to build something to take care of your virtual pet for you.

An art installation in Moscow is using an Arduino to take care of five Tamagotchis simultaneously in a virtal farm of sorts. The system is directly wired to all five toys to simulate button presses, and behaves ideally to make sure all the digital animals are properly cared for. Although no source code is provided, it seems to have some sort of machine learning capability in order to best care for all five pets at the same time. The system also prints out the statuses on a thermal printer, so you can check up on the history of all of the animals.

The popularity of these toys leads to a lot of in-depth investigation of what really goes on inside them, and a lot of other modifications to the original units and to the software. You can get a complete ROM dump of one, build a giant one, or even take care of an infinite number of them. Who would have thought a passing fad would have so much hackability?

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Spray Paint Goes DIY Virtual with a Vive Tracker

Here is a virtual spray painting project with a new and DIY twist to it. [Adam Amaral]’s project is an experiment in using the Vive Tracker, which was released earlier this year. [Adam] demonstrates how to interface some simple hardware and 3D printed parts to the Tracker’s GPIO pins, using it as a custom peripheral that is fully tracked and interactive in the Vive’s VR environment. He details not only the custom spray can controller, but also how to handle the device on the software side in the Unreal engine. The 3D printed “spray can controller” even rattles when shaken!

There’s one more trick. Since the Vive Tracker is wireless and completely self-contained, the completed rattlecan operates independently from the VR headset. This means it’s possible to ditch the goggles and hook up a projector, then use the 3D printed spray can to paint a nearby wall with virtual paint; you can see that part in action in the video embedded below.

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A Virtual Glimpse Into The Forest

Taking a stroll through the woods in the midst of autumn is a stunning visual experience. It does, however, require one to live nearby a forest. If you are one of those who does not, [Koen Hufkens] has recently launched the Virtual Forest project — a VR experience  that takes you though a day in a deciduous forest.

First off, you don’t need a VR apparatus to view the scenery. Web-browsers and most smart phones are capable of displaying the 360 degree images. The Raspberry Pi 2-controlled Ricoh Theta S camera is enclosed in a glass lamp cover and — with the help of some PVC pipe — mounted on a standard fence post. Power is delivered ingeniously via a Cat5e cable, and a surge protector has also been included in case of lightning strikes.  Depending on when you view the website, you could be confronted with a black screen, or a kaleidoscope of color.

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Virtual Archery game makes practicing convenient, safe, and inexpensive

Virtual-Archery

Inspired by playing The Legend of Zelda video game series, Cornell University students [Mohamed Abdellatif] and [Michael Ross] created a Virtual Archery game as their ECE 4760 Final Project.   The game consists of a bow equipped with virtual arrows and a target placed about 20 ft away. The player has three rounds to get as high of a score as possible. A small display monitor shows the instructions, and an image of where the shot actually hit on the target.

Pressing a button on the front of the bow readies a virtual arrow. A stretch sensor communicates with a  microcontroller to determine when the bow string has been drawn and released.  When the bow is drawn, a line of LEDs lights up to simulate a notched arrow. The player aims, and factors in for gravity. An accelerometer calculates the orientation of the bow when fired. The calculated shot is then shown on the display monitor along with your score.

This immediately makes me think of Laser Tag, and feels like a product that could easily be mass marketed. I’m surprised it hasn’t been already. Good work guys.

[via Hackedgadgets]

Check out the video demonstration after the break:

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Play dress up with Kinect

kinect_virtual_dressing_room

While we have seen Kinect-based virtual dressing rooms before, the team at Arbuzz is taking a slightly different approach (Translation) to the digital dress up game. Rather than using flat images of clothes superimposed on the subject’s body, their solution uses full 3D models of the clothing to achieve the desired effect. This method allows them to create a more true to life experience, where the clothing follows the subject around, flowing naturally with the user’s movements.

Like many other Kinect hacks, they use openNI and NITE to obtain skeletal data from the sensor. The application itself was written in C# with Microsoft’s XNA game development tools, and uses a special physics engine to render the simulated cloth in a realistic fashion

[Lukasz] says that the system is still in its infancy, and will require plenty of work before they are completely happy with the results. From where we’re sitting, the demo video embedded below is pretty neat, even if it is a bit rough around the edges. We were particularly pleased to see the Xbox’s native Kinect interface put to work in a DIY project, and we are quite interested to see how things look once they put the final touches on it.

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Marble machines roundup

[Denha’s] been building marble machines for years and decided to look a back on some of his favorite marble-based builds  (translated). There’s a slew of them, as well as some thoughts about each. Our favorite part is the digital simulations of the projects. For instance, the image above shows a flip-flop marble machine that was built in a physics simulator. This makes it a lot easier to plan for the physical build as it will tell you exact dimensions before you cut your first piece of material. Both of these images were pulled from videos which can be seen after the break. But this isn’t the most hard-core of pre-build planning. SolidWorks, a CAD suite that is most often used to design 3D models for precision machining, has also been used to model the more intricate machines.

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