Two computer science students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Yosub Shin and Berwin Xie, set out to find a solution in navigating a virtual world while at the same time keeping VR sickness at bay.
Inspired by the Birdly VR simulator in which users could fly in a virtual space by intuitively flapping their arms, Shin and Xie created a physically immersive experience with a Razor like scooter, controlled by handle direction and foot movement.
In what they are calling the “OculuScooter”, the virtual reality simulator uses a physical scooter handle and the user’s own foot as input devices. The scooter was built out of PVC pipes and a rotation sensor detects the precise angle of the scooter handle. For the foot input, they attached an LED and photo diode on a roller skate. In conjunction with a reflective marker on the wheel to detect the rotations per second of the roller skate, the foot simulator converts the user’s kicking motion into virtual movement.
Shin and Xie started their “OculuScooter” in a hackathon and soon expanded it into a VR class project. Their VR class professor Steve LaValle, is the former principal scientist at Oculus VR until they were acquired by Facebook in March 2014.
The experience was created for an Oculus Rift DK2 and the duo also used other hardware such as an Arduino to integrate the rotation sensor input and Spark Core for the wireless roller skate inputs.
Shin and Xie were able to build the entire system under $150, not including the Oculus DK2, with most of the cost going towards the roller skate and micro-controllers. As an extra bonus, the creators said they were able to make the scooter move backwards as well.
When asked about their future plans, the duo is thinking about developing their project further to publically demo at their school’s annual engineering fair.
You can find more information about Yosub Shin and Berwin Xie’s latest project at http://yosubshin.com/oculuscooter/
Images Courtesy of Berwin Xie
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