Ultra Thin USB 3.1 cable for the Oculus CV1 + 21.6Gbps Displayport?

Spectra7 VR oculus rift USB 3.1

I wrote last year about the announcement of Oculus chip manufacturer Spectra7s new ultra thin HDMI connector chip. With head mounted displays being wired for the foreseeable future it’s pretty important that any consumer device has a thin flexible cable to connect to the PC. The Oculus Rift DK2 of course has a USB2 connector but this is now rather outdated.

So, enter Spectra7 with their TC7050 USB 3.1 chip with 5Gbps of bandwidth. This is easily enough to handle high resolution ‘inside out’ video streams that I see coming, if not in the first consumer version, but soon afterwards. Being able to see the outside world clearly and quickly is also quite important, so we can probably expect dual cameras to appear in the front of most HMDs as a standard feature. Not only would these cameras allow the user to quickly see the outside world for spatial positioning but they can also be used for processing the users real life environment. Want to see where your coffee cup is in VR so you can take a drink while flying a spaceship? This would require a fast transfer of data to the PC to figure out where you are and where your cup is.

The new TC7050 chip gives a 90% reduction in the thickness of the copper cable, the same as the HDMI chip. This means an ultra thin cable combining HDMI and USB 3.1 is possible for the Oculus CV1, or certainly in CV2. Oculus has already stated that the technology they acquired with their acquisition of Nimble would not necessarily make it into their first consumer version, but with the VR gauntlet now thrown down by HTC and Valve, with a good input solution and, perhaps most importantly, a release date, they might be tempted to adjust their schedule.

Spectra7 VR oculus rift USB 3.1

Product Brief PDF link : here

 


Also mentioned in the press release (but not yet announced on their site) are two new display chips.

“Spectra7’s TC7108 chip delivers two channels of DisplayPort HBR2 at 5.4Gbps each (10.8Gbps in total), while the TC7216 delivers four channels (21.6Gbps in total). The TC7050 delivers USB 3.1 Gen 1 data at 5.0Gbps. The TC7108 and TC7050 can be used together to build bidirectional links for ultra-thin high definition external displays and dynamic interfaces for wearable technology.”

‘wearable technology’ hints at VR, but until they release more information than these few lines we won’t know if this is of interest to the VR community…

 

 

Wired 2014 Startup pitch for the motion simulator….

I might put this on the front page, it sums up everything nicely in 398 words…..

 

Since the invention of the classic six degree of freedom platform sixty years ago motion simulators haven’t changed much. They remain massive, ugly and slightly dangerous. Despite the advances in materials and engineering they still require large, powerful, and expensive motors to lift a platform to simulate movement. This keeps motion simulators stuck in the realm of an expensive niche product. After all who has £5,000 to £20,000 lying around?

With the dawning age of virtual reality gamers will no long be content to peer through a monitor screen and they’ll begin to demand a more visceral experience to match the feeling of being inside another world that the rift provides. The market for the first affordable motion simulator is potentially massive.

What is needed is a new design that gives the user not only an affordable, modular device but one that is safe, stylish and smart.

This is the philosophy behind the Feel Three Motion Simulator for Oculus Rift.

Instead of lifting a chair in a fixed rectangular frame, we use interlocking aluminium hexagonal and pentagonal panels which are curved into a semi sphere. They’re light, cheap and very strong. This design allows the user to decide their range of pitch and roll, since you decide the amount of panels. 360° yaw is also built in and as John Carmack said recently “Swivel chair VR is going to be kind of a big deal”. If you want to go all out, make a fully enclosed sphere to roll and loop all day. The platform can even turned into a snowboard or hang glider simulator, and if you’re not a hardcore gamer you can just fill it with cushions and chill while you gently sway to the latest demo.

A motion simulator disguised as a chic sofa? Your wife will love it!

An electronic gyroscope on the platform works out where you are 1,000 times a second and the Oculus Rift camera is mounted to the platform. The base powers the sphere with revolutionary ‘omnichains’, which allow 3 degrees of rotation simultaneously and an optional heave module allows low power vertical movement with counter weights. The whole kit is tiny when unassembled and since it’s modular you can buy the basic platform and build your unique design .

And the price? Slightly more than a decent gaming PC.

A cool, safe, affordable motion simulator for the masses. It’s time.

You feelin’ it?

Open sourced, gloveless, 6DOF hand/arm/finger tracking + gun for Virtual Reality for less than $50…

Leap motion had the right idea when they recently released a mount for the Oculus Rift. The idea was that you can see your hands from the front of your face and give you a cool way to put your hands inside VR. It was a good idea but due to the limited range of the device fundamentally flawed. Tracking beyond 30cm is just too far away for the LM to handle reliably. Still, it’s a step in the right direction. Where else can you find a solution to track fingers and hands with excellent accuracy for less than $25 (second hand)?

Hand tracking really is key to a more immersive VR experience, a problem that the people at Perception neuron used to garner a sweet $570k on kickstarter recently. But gloves? In 2014? It’s a cool set of kit, but so many parts to break, wires to cut, parts to snag and you look somewhat foolish wearing the full setup. And $200 minimum investment? Ouch!

So what do we really need, at a bare minimum? Being able to see our dominant hand (preferably both) in VR space reliably, if we can track our lower arm accurately we can pretty much track the rest of the arm too. Your elbow is a pretty simple joint, approximating the upper arm isn’t hard if you know where your wrist is and where it’s pointing. The VR guns that are appearing more and more don’t give us that information, but guns are easy, fingers are where it’s hard. Showing your hand and fingers, which 99% of the world automatically look for when they first don a Rift, is really what we’re always going to wanting to do.

The main issue is cost, it’s mostly a solved problem if you have the money, but unless you can do it cheaply no one will adopt it and you’ll end up with early adopter blues. Nintendo powerglove anyone?

So, who wouldn’t want to be able to see their hand and fingers move accurately in front of their face while in the Oculus Rift. Everyone right? Now who wants that for less than $50?

It’s easy if you know what to hack together 🙂

Once again, it’s a PROTOTYPE! It’s not perfect, nothing ever is, but show me how to track your hand in VR, move around and shoot for less than $50 and I (and everyone else) will be very happy! I threw this together in a couple of days, if you like it, tell me! If you don’t like it… well, go make your own bloody controller!! :p

And if Oculus is watching, please give us access to the ‘skeleton’ of the camera in the SDK. We know you’re working on your own controller, but you never know, someone else might come up with a better solution and it will die on the vine because it’s impossible to support easily.

Here is a quick video, some pics, a break down of the hardware and how you can hack the software together to make it work.

IMG_2939

 

IMG_2941

Note: The MPU isn’t attached, and the nunchuck isn’t plugged in.

Hardware

The hand tracker is actually quite simple. I’m going to break down each part, what they do and why they’re needed.

Cuff

wrist

This is the base of the prototype, everything hangs on the wrist cuff. In its current incarnation it’s a little rough and could be more comfortable. A later version will have foam padding for comfort and a quick release buckle, or velcro, for a snug fit. It will also need a box for the arduino and gyro. Ideally it would also contain a small USB3 hub so the leap motion and the arduino can communicate to the the PC over only one lead. This raises the price a little for convenience. We also have the option of adding a few more buttons to the cuff which can be activated by the off hand.

(the tubes on the side are for support, printed plastic can be quite weak when printed like this, the tubes allow us to insert a 3mm length of filament for strength)

 

Wii Nunchuck

Why reinvent the wheel? The nunchuck can be found for as little as $3 online, it has a joystick and two trigger buttons as well as a 3 axis accelerometer for simple motion detection. It’s cheap, reliable and easy to replace. It also has a convenient arduino library just waiting to be used.

Ideally we would be able to connect and disconnect two nunchucks, for use in both hands, although using only one is perfectly fine. The cable is long enough to allow use in the ‘off-hand’ so the user could move with one hand and aim/’finger shoot’ with the other. it has a slightly inconvenient proprietary plug but this is easily adapted with a $1 gizmo from ebay. nunchuck

Arduino

A fully formed computer for $3? How can we refuse. This forms the brains of the gyro sensors and interprets the nunchuck signals. Using a pro-micro we can also emulate a joystick with no drivers. Handy!

Gyrometer/accelerometer/magnetometer

This tiny miracle on a chip provides a mass of information a thousand times a second. With this we can accurately measure where your wrist is pointing since it’s attached to the Cuff. They’re also only $8 each.

Female Arm

female

A simple printed arm is attached to the cuff. This provides some simple cable management too. Requires a couple of bolts to attach to the cuff.

Male arm.

male

Another printed part that can be used to adjust the total distance of the arms. A bolt locks it to the female arm and allows adjustment.

The leap holder.

holder

The fourth and final printed part. This hold the leap motion sensor which will be pointing at the hand and providing constant hand and finger tracking. It also has some holes for wires and needs two bolts to attach to the arm.

Leap Motion

 

Another miracle in a small package. You can find them second hand online now for $25. It has fairly mature drivers and a SDK for use with games. By mounting it to the wrist we can over come it’s problems with range and free it from the desk. The leap gives a better experience than putting on sweaty gloves for a fraction of the price. It also has zero moving parts, so there is nothing to break.

Ping Pong Ball

This is attached to the end of the leap holder and has a hole inside it. Illuminated from the inside it gives a cheap way to give us positional information. 25c

LED and wires.

This gives the eleventh and last component something to look at in the darkness. <$1.

PS3 Camera (or equivalent).

The camera tells the PC where your arm is in space, just like the Sony Move works. We can use open source software to track it quite easily and if we use an IR filter and Infrared LED inside the ball we can cut a lot of the tracking processing. Available on ebay for $5.

 

3D Printing Alternatives:

If you don’t have access to a 3D printer you could always make a leap holder from some wood, or even better use friendly plastic. You melt the pellets in boiling water and mould them into shape, this stuff is perfect to make a project like this and it’s very cheap (and reusable).

Bill of Materials

  1. Printed Cuff
  2. Printed female arm
  3. Printed male arm
  4. Printed Leap Holder
  5. Arduino $3 (new)
  6. MPU-9150 $8 (new)
  7. Wii Nunchuck $3 (new)
  8. Leap Motion $25 (second hand)
  9. PS3 Eye camera $5 (second hand)
  10. Ping Pong ball 25c
  11. LED + 40cm wire + 10 oh resistor $1
  12. 5 bolts and washers ~$1
  13. Extra cuff buttons 25c each (optional)
  14. Wii nunchuck adapter $1 (optional)
  15. Cuff Velcro $1 (optional)
  16. Cuff comfort foam $1 (optional)
  17. Short pieces of wire to connect the MPU and arduino
  18. USB lead for arduino (on hand)
  19. 5 meter USB3.0 extender for the Leap Motion $7
  20. 5v motor for cuff vibration $1 (optional)

Total : $46.25

or $58 with optional extras.

notes : The Cuff is ideally printed using Nylon since this is more flexible than ABS or PLA and should last longer. The leap can be position to be facing the palm or the back of the hand, although the latter, while more convenient, might be less accurate. It’s also possible that if an optimal position can be found we can reduce the required printed parts to a complete arm and cuff, removing the need for the bolts, and improving the appearance. A USB 2.0 lead can be used for the Leap Motion but this lowers the data speed and may affect accuracy.

 Software

This is a work in progress… but we can break it down into 4 distinct areas, all of which have open source software available.

Finger Tracking : Sign up with Leap here for their SDK

Position Tracking : Choose from two open computer vision projects, SimpleCV or OpenCV

Rotation Tracking : It’s a work in progress over at Arduino

Nunchuck libraries : Tim Teatros or check the arduino Site

 

 

 

Approaching laptop limits

I need a new PC, just trying to get three spheres on the screen at the same time even with 8gb of ram is a nightmare!

I thought I’d make up a new image because I was going to put a ‘work in progress’ post on oculusvr…

triple leather