What if virtual reality and seamless three-dimensional interfaces arrived, and they turned out to be a lot simpler technologically than you imagined? Well, perhaps you know a technology is within reach when it can not only be implemented, but implemented in a way that’s elegant and lightweight.

The latest in the ongoing YouTube-able head-tracking and 3D-manipulation videos is this creation by Timo Fleisch at the Center of Technology and Art Berlin. He has lots of resources on XNA programming, as well; thanks to a C# library, XNA and Wii mix nicely on the PC. (Less so on the Xbox 360 for obvious reasons, but XNA makes a lovely development framework for 3D on the PC, not just the console.)

http://www.vrhome.de/ [link is incorrect on the YouTube page]

The idea is pretty easy to grasp:

  • 2 Wii remotes, basically acting as simple near-infrared-spectrum tracking cameras (which means, in fact, you could substitute something else if you really wanted)
  • Head tracking, via emitters on glasses, as first widely popularized in a Wii video by Carnegie Mellon’s Johnny Lee
  • Polarized 3D glasses, for 3D perception (and Coraline fans, natch)
  • A 4-LED “LED Beacon” which allows three-dimensional manipulation of objects on the screen.

As a performance or interaction interface, I actually find the head tracking to be a bit awkward, especially as you’re still looking at a flat screen. But I love the manipulation via the “beacon.” I think there’s a lot that can be done to make manipulation of 3D spaces and objects more intuitive and more gestural – and naturally, that could lead to some lovely 3D performance tools, too (not to mention making modeling 3D objects less of a pain).

Stay tuned, same VR time, same VR channel.

Found via Veronica Pejril on Twitter.

  • http://www.hiltmeyer.net hiltmeyer.inc

    you got one dot too mutch at the and of the vrhome.de link.
    so thats why its not working i think

  • Chris Thorpe

    Reminds me of the apocryphal story that the head-tracking missile targeting system on the Mig 29 used infrared sensors on the pilot's helmet where the sensors were originally intended for TV remote controls.

  • Bill

    nice idea, i think the system is abit too fragile (ie turning the 'beacon' upside down or turning your head away from screen.

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis

    I love the naked perfboard with LEDs for the object track. <3 Prototyping.

  • Magneto

    Found another way to do DIY head-tracking using a Gyration Air Mouse. These folks seem to have solved some of the drift and accuracy problems: VRtifacts.com