May I introduce IRE?

What would it be like to explore the world as a small kid? The quest of answering this question sounds like a perfect job for the Oculus Rift. For all those who don’t know the Oculus Rift, it is a display which you can wear on your head. Of course there have been already similar products before, but the Oculus Rift has some features for an extremely immersive experience:

  • A large field of vision of 100° to cover the most part of our vision
  • Precise head tracking, which allows measuring how the head is held
  • Good software development kit, which makes it easy to develop applications for it
  • Fast growing developer community

Most of the applications developed for the Rift are just rendering a virtual world. At the Institute i4Ds of FHNW School of Engineering I wanted to go a step further: Show the real world! For stereovision I have a wide-angle camera for each eye. To provide a natural way of looking around, the camera rig is attached to a 3-axis gimbal. As I look around with the Rift, the camera head does the same synchronously. But simply looking around is not enough; I wanted also to be able to move around. Therefore I installed this gyrating stereovision device on a robot platform. Furthermore, to make it easy to use, I wanted the IRE to be wireless.

The biggest risk in using the Oculus Rift is getting motion sick. Therefore I had to pay attention to some requirements. One is the need of a low latency, respectively the time from moving the head to getting the matching image. The other important requirement is a high frame rate, in this case 60 frames per seconds. All of these goals were very challenging, but in the end I succeeded and we built the IRE (Intuitive Rift Explorer) with these incredible key features:

  • One of the first moved reality systems
  • Gyrated camera rig, which is matching head movements
  • Remote-controlled robot
  • Large field of vision
  • Completely wireless
Do you want to know more how IRE was built? Start reading the blog series now.

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