Tuesday, June 23, 2009

VR Game Gun

A couple months ago, I participated in a VR experiment with the some CS grad students, who had a head mounted display as well as a motion tracking device for the hand. All in all, the experience was pretty exciting, but for some reason, the hand tracking was laggy (but the head tracking wasn't. Who knows?)

More recently, some guy has created a hackish VR controller, called the PC VR Game Gun:

I've always been a big fan of VR, and this thing is no exception. It uses a gyroscopic mouse to track pitch and yaw, and I think it uses a keyboard/gamepad hooked up to the gun's innards for movement. All told, these features don't seem all that new, and considering the accelerometers and buttons in a Wii controller, using a Wii mote + Zapper might have actually been a better idea.

What DID catch my eye was the fact that it places a screen right along the scope of the barrel. I'm actually a bit puzzled as how exactly how it's anchored to the gun, though I suppose it's a problem that a bit of welding and screws could fix. What I like about this is that the screen follows the hands rather than staying in a fixed place like a regular monitor (e.g. Wii).

Granted, a head mounted display would do much of the same, but the problem there is that it requires more expensive location tracking, which requires fixed cameras (i.e. not exactly the most portable setup). Gyroscopes can detect acceleration, so it's fine for turning and rotation, but it can't exactly tell where your hands are in relation to your face. It just seems awkward to be holding a trigger that essentially does nothing for where you're aiming.

In this iteration, if you imagine that the screen simply being a enlarged scope on top of a gun (ala CornerShot), then you get a similar amount of immersion for a much cheaper cost. You won't have as wide range of view as with a HMD, but the PC VR game gun seems to be undergoing a second revision: adding in micro projectors on top of the gun to project against the walls.

I'm not quite sure if micro projectors are even powerful enough to do the job, as last I checked, most micro projectors have a very low amount of lumens, and just aren't extremely bright at large ranges (which you'll probably want when you're waving around a toy gun, shooting virtual mobs). However, the idea itself is rather brilliant; in theory, it'd be no different than running around with a gun/flashlight combo, great for playing a dark game like FEAR. I can't wait for this next iteration to come around.

1 comment:

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