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Oculus-Alike: Build Your Own Virtual Reality Headset 23

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-not-while-driving dept.
Hesh writes "With the impending arrival of the first batch of Oculus Rift VR headsets to developers, Rod Furlan put up a very detailed guide on how to build your very own headset with off-the-shelf parts and a few hours of spare time based off of the original design of the headset from the forums where it all started. This is a very exciting time for VR, and DIY headsets will allow everyone to try out new tricks and form factors while finally being able to test with a whole new world of compatible software that is about to be released very soon."
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Oculus-Alike: Build Your Own Virtual Reality Headset

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I would be extremely surprised if you couldn't build one with off the shelf parts. Dude basically strapped a tablet to a pair of ski goggles.

    • by Immerman (2627577) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:02PM (#43172797)

      Okay, sure, it'd be kinda cool to hack together your own helmet, but you'd be paying about as much just for the parts as for a complete Rift, and the result would be a kludge of a headset which will almost certainly be heavier and less comfortable, and whose optics and sensors will be (maybe not so) slightly different, meaning you'll lose out on a lot of the last-mile fine-tuning of the experience.

      I do really hope these guys don't get all anal about locking down their SDK to only work with their helmet or charging outrageous licensing fees to developers, so many promising technologies have been stillborn because of such shenanigans. They have the first-mover advantage, as long as they don't sit on their laurels as competition emerges there's lots and lots of money to be made, *if* the technology takes off. Competition and low/zero licensing fees will help that happen, and as the producers of the de-facto standard SDK they'll have an ongoing advantage when it comes to expanding the feature set to be even more immersive. Independent screen for each eye for a wider FOV in a slimmer profile. Integrated Kinect-style scanner to track hand motion and provide obstacle alerts. Lots of interesting possibilities going forward. IF it takes off.

  • by Picass0 (147474) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:17AM (#43171317) Homepage Journal

    In every VR headset I've tried the eyes must stay aimed mostly forward with very limited range of movement which is very unnatural and uncomfortable. They also use fisheye lenses with quickly deliver a blistering migraine.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It has a 110 degree horizontal field of view, so you can move your eyes as much as you like. It does use fisheye lenses, but the distortion is inverted in software so that it looks perfectly normal (although with marginally greater pixel density at the center of the screen, which most regard as a feature).

      • by EdZ (755139) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @11:46AM (#43171693)
        Additionally, the lenses focus the display at infinity, so you're not straining your eyes trying to look at something right in front of your face.
      • by Picass0 (147474)

        I read the claims. The promise and the reality of most VR hardware are two different things. The fact there are eyepieces is not something that will be comfortable over a long gaming session. I find it difficult to imagine wearing them to be different than looking through binoculars (which most people will futz with continuously to make them 'fit')

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:08PM (#43172905)
    We need to advance the development of other body interface, um, attachments.


    Not for me, of course.
  • While VR is getting closer, I see the next 3 years or so as a continuation of the slow and steady progress. VR was all the rage around 1995, around the time I graduated with a CS degree. Of course, VR was just starting out and the graphics were simple shapes. VR has since popped up about every 5 years or so as simulators, graphics, etc. have gotten better.

    In my opinion, VR has come a long way since with eye tracing, haptic feedback, graphics, visors, etc. Also, today's 3D movies may be more of a gimmick

    • by Viewsonic (584922)

      Keep going back! In the late 80s there were VR arcades in Chicago that used Amigas and these huge headsets. You basically got to go in a dungeon with a few friends. It was mostly a grey block cave. Around the time Lawnmower Man came out, it got pretty big in 1992. In 1995 the Virtual Boy came out and gave the entire world a VR headache, and we haven't seen much since.

  • by PSVMOrnot (885854) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @03:13PM (#43174829)

    The obligatory XKCD link [xkcd.com]

    The contents of which, incidentally, will be one of the first things I do in the event of getting an Occulus rift

  • Sharing HMD Designs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dkrum (2865835) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @04:47PM (#43175873) Homepage

    It is great to see Rod and other folks exploring and discussing their work in building cheap and effective virtual reality displays and peripherals.

    I hope that there won’t be too much criticism on his build concerning price. Please note that he’s including a low cost, but in comparison, a moderately priced tracker. From the build writeup, you can see how you could replace it with something else. All in all, it’s a pretty cheap device to make. Consider the doors it opens. An open approach and open discussion of such builds is valuable and appreciated.

    Some other thoughts: the Rift was spun out of some Open Source designs that we had Palmer Luckey work while he was here at the ICT Mixed Reality Lab (MxR) at the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. After witnessing the Kickstarter and seeing the implications it’s already had worldwide, I think that it and these DIY head mounted displays are very important to advancing the VR industry and community. I’m happy to see all the interest and I’d like to see a broad range of hobbyists, scientists, engineers, and companies experimenting and improving on these designs, and discovering how to build the next generation of immersive experiences.

    Like Rod, I and my colleagues at Mixed Reality Lab (MxR) http://projects.ict.usc.edu/mxr/ [usc.edu] are also firm believers in sharing our work, Open Sourcing what we can, and helping anyone who wants to play with these technologies. We’ve been improving and packaging our various Open Source reference designs for low cost head mounted displays and immersive viewers. We’ll be discussing these items at the 2013 IEEE Virtual Reality Conference in Orlando, FL next week.

    To help out the community and add to the conversation, we’ll be open sourcing a lot of data in the next few days. We’ll share our parts lists, 3D printer STL files, and various software packages that will help you create your own immersive experiences. We do have some foldable foam-core viewer designs, but we have been working on 3D printed viewers as well. The prices on 3D printers are coming down and ordering a print from an online 3D print company is fairly easy. We have a Stereo Unity package that lets developers easily create and edit Stereo Project Scenes in Unity and some nice Distortion Correction software for Unity that counters the fisheye distortion that you see with low cost magnifier lenses.

    You can see our designs as well as our code at http://projects.ict.usc.edu/mxr/open-source/ [usc.edu]. We’ve even been working on a few unofficial Oculus Rift Mods which we’ll be releasing any day now.

    • by SB2020 (1814172)
      I built a similar unit with a co-worker, inspired by the 'hacculus rift' in the link from TFA, instead of the expense of sourcing a display panel, we opted to use a nexus 7 mounted in a cardboard enclosure with a pair of loupe lenses (50mm aspherical), total cost about £30 (+ a nexus). It works really well!
      Initially I experimented with stereo pair photos to get the viewer setup properly, there's a wealth of images online - mostly Victorian England and Japanese pron. We moved on to a Unity app, using
  • The guy who invented the Oculus started out by giving simple instructions to build your own:
    http://projects.ict.usc.edu/mxr/open-source/fov2go/ [usc.edu]

    A smart phone and some 35mm slide 3D glasses gives you a very compelling experience.

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