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  • Wed 30 Jun 2010

    VR Kit – HMD : Portable VR

    Published at 16:32   Category VR Devices, VR Displays, Virtual Reality DIY  

    I finally have a first prototype of a HMD based VR Kit. This is a work I’m doing with my fellow VR Geeks of Paris.

    By the way we’ve just started a new webpage : http://www.VRGeeks.org

    There you can join the (worldwide) VR Geeks mailing list ! I’ll make another announcement later but you can already join early ;)

    The idea of the kits is that we don’t impose any hardware, you can use whatever hardware combination/tracking method you want ! Here I’m using the most cheap/usable ratio I’ve found. More infos on the VR Kits here. This is just a quick first version to get the idea, and you’re invited to join the discussion !

    Here’s a quick video :

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    And here’s the parts list for this setup :

    - Vuzix VR 920 HMD (350€)

    - Spacepoint Fusion orientation tracker (100€) (my Vuzix tracker is completely unusable..)

    - Wiimote + Nunchuck (50€)  for some buttons and a joystick.

    - A Gametrak (20€) to get the head and hand position.

    Total : ~500€ !!!

    Everything fits nicely in my small backpack so I’m able to do some nice demos around. Granted the Gametrak tracking is a bit cheesy and you’re quite tethered for the moment, but it is *very* cheap and works really well. Everything is replacable by more interesting/expensive/clever solutions.

    I would need a second Spacepoint Fusion to get a correct Wiimote orientation (yaw..), or maybe you will be able to help … More on that later ;)

    I also have a nice setup with a 3d projector, the VRKit-Wall.

    (Update: David testing the kit)


    Mon 21 Jun 2010

    3D, 3D, 3D ( and some real 2D)

    Published at 9:10   Category 3d  

    The word 3D is becoming even more undefined than VR.  We keep seeing “3D” everywhere and before clicking you can’t guess which 3D is being talked about.

    Is it 3D computer graphics ?

    Is it stereoscopic ?

    Is it just because it’s not in 2D ?

    Philippe Fuchs made me laugh last week when he said : “Hey I finally found a real 2D movie !!!”

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    So I guess what we all do is 3D, 3D, and 3D ! 3D because we can perceive depth, 3D because it’s computer graphics and 3D because it’s stereoscopic !

    Tue 15 Jun 2010

    Ford’s VR design tools

    Published at 12:34   Category VR Applications  

    I had the chance to meet Elizabeth Baron, last year’s IEEE VR Keynote speaker, and manager of the VR Center in Product Development at Ford. But I’ve never visited all their VR equipment ! CrunchGear was more lucky than me, and has a great overview of the VR usage at Ford to design cars. There is a lot more details about their process in her keynote !

    So, of course they have a Cave :


    - Ford’s Cave (c) CrunchGear -

    “This 3D environment is designed not so much for the ergonomics (…), but rather for style and craftsmanship. Four rear projectors generate 3D images on three sides and above the tester. The 3D glasses are equipped with motion-tracking sensors to further complete the environment.”

    A powerwall :


    - Ford’s PowerWall (c) CrunchGear -

    “Imagine a large room with a single computer workstation and a 20-foot screen as its display. That basically Ford’s Powerwall. It’s a place where designers to executives to auto dealers can gather and get a high-res look at Ford’s current and future lineup.

    It’s a simple concept with Sony 4k projector connected to just a single high-end workstation, but the results are spectacular. Designers are no longer tied down to their cubicles and can explore their work in larger-than-life dimensions using AutoDesk & AutoStudio CAD programs to creating spectacular animations in Maya.

    The Powerwall rooms are also equipped for worldwide collaboration and any one of them can host virtual meetings with the other seven Ford Powerwall studios found across the globe.”

    And a simulator, the Virttex :


    - Ford’s VIRTTEX (c) CrunchGear -

    “Ride testing is key to any vehicle’s development. It can be expensive constructing prototypes that do not function right or are simply wrong. This is where the VIRTETEX simulator comes in.

    A 24-ft dome houses a full-size vehicle — in this case a Taurus X crossover — that’s connected to a series of computers. Hydraulics, five projectors, and a bunch screens then immerses drivers in a virtual world.

    The benefits are nearly endless. No more expensive and potentially dangerous test vehicles as the system can simulate most of the driving dynamics of a compact car or full-size truck. Testing and polling can be done in a controlled environment without any variables. And it’s just so cool. Imagine playing Burnout Paradise or Grand Turismo in this thing. The Ford engineers said they’ve never broke out the games but you know the six blade servers with high-end Nvidia graphic cards that powers the displays are just screaming for a bit of downtime.”

    But I think my favorite toy would be the Programmable Vehicle Model :


    - Ford’s Programmable Vehicle Model (and Elizabeth Baron) (c) CrunchGear -

    “Much of a vehicle’s testing is now done virtually [Cb: How much?], a processes that helps streamline development while keeping cost down. Ford utilizes numerous tools for virtual testing with the PVM at the heart of the process. It immerses the tester in a virtual world assisted by the physical presence of a configurable vehicle sled.

    This testing sled is a complex platform that’s able to match the physical dimensions of nearly any vehicle. Once the physical properties are set, a tester sits in the sled wearing a head-mounted virtual reality display equipped with reflective spheres to enable 1-1 movement mapping. A pair of gloves with the same IR-visible balls helps complete the illusion.

    The goal here is to allow designers and engineers the ability to test out their designs without building a full-scale working model. Nearly everything from seating position to steering wheel position to blind spots can be evaluated and worked out.”

    Very advanced passive-haptics ! Moving the different physical parts so that it matches the virtual car is brilliant. And combined with an HMD you can completely occlude the physical skeleton and dress it with any car you want.

    That’s a really practical and useful VR center, helping them to have better car faster, saving them months of developpment and saving them millions of dollars in development !

    Thank you CrunchGear for the overview !

    Wed 9 Jun 2010

    Laval Virtual 2010 Videos

    Published at 8:29   Category VR Applications  

    DS has just released all the videos they shot during Laval Virtual so thanks to them. Of course it’s only about applications using Virtools but it’s still interesting.

    Featuring David “iVEvangelist” Nahon!

    Randy Pausch once said about VR : “It has to be experienced first-hand. Simply talking about it is like describing color to a blind man.” Going to Laval Virtual is a good way to experience VR and open your eyes ;)

    Here are the ones related to immersive VR :

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    - VR4D by Clarte. Original video here -

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    - Multiplatform distant collaboration -

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    - Darwin Fear Theroy -

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    - AR Laster See-through glasses -

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    - Immersive Rail Shooter -

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    - Immersive Music Painter -

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    - Spider Hero -

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    - V3S. Not completly immersive VR but still has plausibility illusion -

    Tue 1 Jun 2010

    Quick Links #3

    Published at 18:30   Category Virtual Reality  

    Don’t have time to post a full article ? No problem, Twitter to the rescue !

    (And if you’re in Paris next moday (7th June), feel free to drop by our VRGeeks bar evening !)

    - IronMan simulator #diy #ivr http://bit.ly/d48acQ

    - The sense of body ownership and 3D virtual reality: http://bit.ly/amkCBy

    - Unity3D in Chrome without any plugin installation! http://bit.ly/cSxhHr

    - Natal To Cost $149 and to be released 26 oct – Source http://shar.es/mjVnM

    - Even “Looney Tunes” Gets Into 3D Craze http://bit.ly/c6iFoF #s3d#stereoscopic #cartoons (via @3DMOVIEMAN)

    - Samsung shows a 19″ trasparent OLED screen! http://bit.ly/cKwSXt(via @regarde)

    - Impressive and cheap “real-time hand-tracking with a color glove” #ivr http://bit.ly/an87uR

    - Body ownership can be transferred to an entirely virtual body (via slapping ?!): http://bit.ly/aP53uJ

    - RT @TopsyRT: AppleInsider | Apple exploring interactive, glasses-free 3D holographic displays http://bit.ly/dgqzNT

    - RT @DepthQs3D: Sharp 3D camera module for mobile devices http://bit.ly/cBPJeu – This is the kind of tech that will grow s3D

    - RT@DepthQs3D: Dimension 3 Expo, Paris June 1-3 — “Top Thirteen S-3D Questions Answered by Stephan Faudeux” @Nick_Dager http://bit.ly/dhq5f9 #s3D