Awesome Stuff: Mainstreaming Augmented And Virtual Reality

from the oculus-who? dept

Yeah, so you've heard about how Facebook recently bought Oculus, perhaps the most high profile virtual reality company out there, for about $2 billion. But there are a number of others out there working on virtual and augmented reality projects. For this week's awesome stuff post about interesting crowdfunding projects, we thought we'd look at a few projects that seem more geared towards mainstreaming this technology.
  • First up, we've got the Altergaze -- which might also be described as the poor man's Oculus Rift. It's a 3D printed (and it looks it) contraption for holding your mobile phone, and having an Oculus Rift-like virtual reality experience for a less money. The video clips of people reacting to it are fantastic.
    The project is based out of the UK, so the pricing is in £s. If you're willing to do some self-assembly, it'll run you just £50, but can run up to £100 or more if you want an assembled version. The project is designed to be open source hardware, so if you've got your own 3D printer (and access to the right lenses) you could conceivably try to build your own. This project is about halfway to its £50,000 goal after just a day or so. With nearly a month left it'll fly past that goal.
  • Next up, we've got the Rescape, which creates an augmented reality/virtual reality game on a mobile phone. It uses a funky "game controller," which is more or less a device to make you feel like you're holding a gun in a first person shooter, and which holds your phone on top, through which you can view the game. Tough to describe in words, easy to understand if you watch the video. Basically, it puts you live inside a first person shooter, using your mobile phone, even clothing other "players" in military outfits or whatever. If you ever wanted to "live" in a first person shooter, rather than just watching one on a TV or computer screen, check it out.
    This one seems a bit pricey, as you'll have to shell out over $100 for just a single "controller," and that's probably not nearly as fun as having a few in order to play with friends. While this looks like quite a lot of fun, they're having trouble attracting buyers. With just over a week to go, they're only around 20% of their $150,000 goal.
  • Finally, this last one may be my favorite of the bunch, in part because the Matt Hat makes no effort at all to hide the fact that this is not a consumer product, was started entirely as a joke, but since people seemed interested in it, he'd toss it up on Kickstarter. Basically, it's an attempt to create a DIY augmented reality heads up display, a la a Google Glass, but rather than something like Glass, this is just taking an old baseball cap, a visor and a smartphone -- and then patching it all together. It looks terrible, and the guy behind it doesn't hide that at all. Also, assembling it yourself is required (even though he'll include a baseball cap in the package -- though no indication what kind). That involves cutting a hole in the cap, some rubber bands and a variety of other random things. As Matt himself notes, this is functional, not fashionable. The video showing you how to put it together yourself is fantastic.
    This one will run you about $50 Australian, which is about $46 US. Even so, not too many people are going for it. At the time writing this it has just 5 backers after a few days of being live. That's not going to get Matt anywhere near his $50,000 goal. I haven't decided to support this one yet, but there's something tempting about it. For all the talk of people reacting to "Glassholes," I'm really curious how people walking down the street would respond to this monstrosity.
That's it for this week. Go enjoy some real reality.

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  • icon
    Rikuo (profile), 5 Apr 2014 @ 8:30am

    The Rescape looks great. One idea I had was that you could off-load some of the graphics processing work to a more powerful local PC. I'm not a programmer or system developer so I'm not entirely sure exactly how this would work, but what I'm envisioning is, before gameplay, you scan the environment with your smartphone camera, transmit that to your PC, scan your player buddies. You then have, while playing, the local PC doing all the grunt work in rendering graphics and then streaming them to your smartphone in real-time. On the PC, you'd select skins to go over your player buddies, and even select who is an ally and who is an enemy. In fact, why not throw in Google Glass into the mix, and have that be used for display, while using the phone's gyroscope to help track gunshots?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2014 @ 12:15pm


      You will undoubtedly have to map your "playing area" too. When the light changes you will probably have to remap.

      I thought we went through all of this with the wii gimmick.
      Shooter games where you actually point a gun at the screen.... omg your arm gets sore. Give me that gamepad.

      Also, nintendo3ds has augmented reality games. They are also gimmicky but that is all.

      Give me a virtual 'multi-screen 50" monitors' in a headset is good enough for me. Leave the augmented reality for things like seeing how that sofa looks in your living room.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous, 5 Apr 2014 @ 10:18am

    I thought Oculus was a horror movie having to do with a mirror. Coming soon: lawsuit filed over name Oculus.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2014 @ 12:45pm

    I thought of countless possibilities for rescape.

    Countless possibilities to hurt yourself while running around frantically with your eyes locked on a tiny screen in front of you that shows an altered version of your surroundings without any guarantee of being entirely correct.

    I'm not a personal injury lawyer, but... hey! Why the hell not!

    Ciao hosers, I'm off to lawschool! See ya when you've hurtled down the stairs your phone didn't 'recognize' correctly and ram the 'controller' (read: overpriced, crooked plasticky stick) through your head and are angling for a settlement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Andrew D. Todd, 6 Apr 2014 @ 3:38am

      Virtualize The Body Itself (to Anonymous Coward, #4)

      Well, of course, what you need for virtual reality is a kind of saddle with springs built into the stirrups, so that you can run around without going anywhere. An exercise machine designed to be used as as a video game peripheral. I doubt is would need to be much more expensive than an exercise bicycle, less than a thousand dollars, probably. The catch is, you couldn't merge it with actually going anywhere. You set up the machine down in the basement or wherever, with enough space around it that you don't knock anything over... You can get quite a nice work-out pushing against springs.

      Of course, what will happen if this takes hold is that astute exercise machine manufacturers are going to put up lots of software in the public domain, in order to sell their iron. Nintendo always thought of itself as an electronics company, and was half-hearted about introducing "physical" peripherals. That is why the Wii U was such a disappointment. I once tried messing around with a NordicTrak, but in the last analysis, it wasn't as much fun as walking up a hill to see what was on the other side. Similarly, I can't get excited about lifting weights, but I made myself a suitable walking stick, about the length of a ski pole, and that makes vigorous arm motion a part of walking. Obviously, the exercise machine manufacturers have a chance to broaden their market.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bee Sand, 7 Apr 2014 @ 1:48pm

    Augmented Reality App

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bee Sand, 7 Apr 2014 @ 1:50pm

    Augmented Reality App

    How about apps that create live augmented reality?
    I would like to recommend the twrrl app for iPhones and iPads add overlays to live videos.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PacRIm Jim, 7 Apr 2014 @ 5:36pm

    We're already there

    According so some cosmologists, we humans already live in VR, so living in metaVR won't be much of a challenge.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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