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What Building a Hoverboard in VR Looks Like

Hoverboard VR Virtual Reality

Combining an Oculus Rift headset, a Wii Balance Board, Microsoft Kinect, and Leap Motion controller, your hopes for taking flight on a hoverboard can now become a reality, in virtual reality of course.

Just in time for October 21, 2015, the future day Marty McFly visits in Back To The Future Part II, one developer has created a working hoverboard VR demo experience that we can’t wait to try out.

Speaking with Amsterdam developer Sander Sneek about his latest Hoverboard VR experience, through a use of hardware input devices, users will be able to propel forward and backward, strafe down a highway, and wave their hands all within a Tron inspired virtual world on the Hoverboard VR.

hoverboard-vr-board

Sneek described how when users stand atop the Wii Balance Board, it can detect weight distribution. So when you shift your weight forward, the virtual board begins to move you through the virtual space forward down the road. While users move forward, “you will automatically follow the road, which makes it far more easier to steer.” Steering is as simple as shifting weight on the board, much like actually riding a skateboard. Look down at your virtual hands and there they are too, thanks to the Leap Motion controller.

Although Sneek mentioned that flying down the virtual highway on a Hoverboard can cause some motion sickness, the combination of all the hardware sensors is a big step forward for him in creating accurate levels of immersion and presence within the experience.

hoverboard-vr-ingame

Hoverboard VR is the second iteration of a demo created back in early 2014. The first version was developed as a proof of concept and took a couple months, utilizing an Oculus Rift DK1, Wii Balance Board, and Kinect V1. Now with more current hardware versions available, Sneek started hacking away in August of this year to create this latest tech demo version.

Much of the inspiration for creating Hoverboard VR was actually in fact inspired by the return of Marty McFly on October 21, 2015 according to Sneek. His future plans for Hoverboard VR is to begin utilizing the Leap Motion controller more, allowing your hands to be tracked in virtual reality. He would like to place a virtual heads-up display on the user’s forearm to provide more interaction with the experience, such as “activating/deactivating the hoverboard or changing the audio track.” It could also be useful for showing some general info like speed, time, or waveform of the current music playing (like this).

hoverboard-vr-hands

So where can you check it out in person? Well if your in the area, Hoverboard VR will have its premiere at the Dutch VR Days in Amsterdam on October 31, 2015. Sneek will also be working on a Wii Balance Board library to get the raw data into Unity3D for other developers to tinker with.

From the video, Hoverboard VR looks more polished and detailed then the first iteration of the project. The idea, if ever expanded on to create skating, snowboarding, or surfing experiences, could be something many would also get pretty excited about. And unlike in Back to the Future, in virtual reality, hoverboards can work on water.

You can check out the full video of Hoverboard VR plus additional technical details in the video’s description below.

About the Scout

Jonathan Nafarrete

Jonathan Nafarrete is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of VRScout.

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