Visit GitHub to start building your own mouseVRheadset.
Developers at Schaffer-Nishimura Lab have created a miniature VR system designed to study the behavior of mice. Tiny subjects are immersed in a variety of closed-loop (interactive) and open-loop (non-interactive) visual scenes using a combination of unique technologies. The news was first reported by Tom’s Hardware.
“The mouseVRheadset is a VR system for mouse neuroscience and behavior research,” said the team. “Where the headset is ideal for complex virtual reality experiments and behavioral research, the monocular display is ideal for simple visual stimulation for basic visual neuroscience applications.”
The mouseVRheadset is powered by a Raspberry Pi 4 computer running the Godot video game engine and features two SPI displays to deliver simple VR experiences at a resolution of 240×210 and a frame rate of >60 fps. These components are bound together using a custom 3D-printed headset case that keeps the subject’s head in place during testing.
A spherical treadmill allows mice to navigate closed-loop VR experiences naturally. The system is composed of an air-suspended styrofoam ball, headplate mount, optical sensors, and a microcontroller. As the mice move on top of the ball, optical sensors directed at the treadmill track the yaw, pitch, and roll and translate the data into 2D movement.
“The Godot game engine converts these detected mouse movement events into the appropriate camera movements in the virtual scene,” added the team. “This setup allows the human user to test the game environments and experiments using a standard computer mouse or touchpad, and to use this VR system with any type of treadmill control system that can be translated through a mouse emulator.”
As previously mentioned, Schaffer-Nishimura Lab has uploaded instructions on GitHub so you can conduct your own behavior research using custom VR technology. You will need a few specific parts as well as access to a 3D printer. The team provides links to all the necessary software, including the Raspberry Pi Operating System and Godot game engine.
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Image Credit: Schaffer-Nishimura Lab