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Linux Compatibility With VR Goggles? 170

Posted by kdawson
from the sees-things-we-don't dept.
WorldWarCheese writes "Many's the time I wish I had a little more mobility or comfort with my computer. Laptops are OK, but anyone interested can see right onto my screen; and a laptop doesn't quite have that 'cool' factor that VR goggles / headsets do. The problem is, whenever I've looked at the options, Linux compatibility is not mentioned. Is there a VR headset out there that is compatible with Ubuntu? If not, what could I do to make it compatible, and how feasible would that be?"
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Linux Compatibility With VR Goggles?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:00AM (#26172587)

    ...they do nothing!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:01AM (#26172591)

    Congratulations, your half-way to becoming the newest member of the Borg collective! Just need a machine suit and a bunch of implants, and the transition to your new life is complete. :D

    • Re:VR goggles, eh? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:09AM (#26172723) Homepage

      Congratulations, your half-way to becoming the newest member of the Borg collective! Just need a machine suit and a bunch of implants, and the transition to your new life is complete.

      Kevin Warwick [wikipedia.org] has him beat. I'm surprised he didn't immediately pop up in a first post. He's a well-known figure in nerd subculture. If you haven't heard about his odd lifestyle choices yet, his autobiography I, Cyborg [amazon.com] does much to explain his thinking.

      • Kevin Warwick (Score:3, Insightful)

        by titzandkunt (623280)
        Kevin Warwick may be a "well-known figure in nerd subculture", but among nerds in the know, he's widely regarded as a shameless self-promoter, all-round media-tart and frankly, a bit of a joke.

        His claims and ideas put him more into the realms of science fiction author / futurologist, rather than serious scientist / engineer.

        Here's a gem, courtesy of The Reg: Captain Cyborg pushes kid chipping via Maddy abduction case [theregister.co.uk]
        • This guy sucks. How is he more of a cyborg than someone with a pacemaker? I feel like a pacemaker makes you way more of a cyborg than this egotistical jerk with an RFID chip in his arm.
  • by binarylarry (1338699) on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:04AM (#26172631)

    and I own those exact goggles.

    They're basically just a low res monitor... or a highly secretive way to watch porn without anyone knowing.

    If you're looking for stereoscopic support, that's up to your display driver manufacturer. Nvidia's stereoscopic mode barely works on Windows, let alone on Linux.

  • Cool (Score:5, Funny)

    by bperkins (12056) on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:04AM (#26172633) Homepage Journal

    doesn't quite have that 'cool' factor that VR goggles / headsets do

    That word.
    I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Contact the company? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:05AM (#26172649)

    The model you're linked doesn't specify compatibility, though it does list its inputs:
    VGA / SVGA / XVGA Input: Scaled to SVGA (800 x 600)

    It 'might' work out of the box like a plug and play monitor but it also may not.

    The best way to check on Linux support is to contact the manufacturer of the devices you are looking at.

    Custom drivers can be made for linux but it is easier for people to do so with the cooperation of the original developers.

  • The link you posted looks like an out-of-production model, but the "new" model ( http://www.i-glassesstore.com/i-glasses-i3pc.html [i-glassesstore.com] ) seems like it might work with a bit of tweaking. It mentions 2D compatibility for Macs, so theoretically it works on a flavor of *nix.

    As to how feasible it is to get the Mac-based drivers to work on Ubuntu, you've got me there. I'm not familiar enough with the differences between the two OSes at that level (networking geek, not a programmer).

    • Completely infeasible. It's not simple to get drivers from a different version of the Linux kernel to work, let alone from another operating system. The only successful example I know of is the use of ndiswrapper to get wireless drivers from Windows to work...
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:07AM (#26172683) Journal
    There are, now that small LCDs have gotten cheap, numerous "display glasses" type products that toss an LCD in front of each eye and have some sort of video input(generally VGA or composite, sometimes both or other). Basic VGA-in display glasses should work exactly like any other monitor on virtually anything. No guarantee that the EDID isn't complete nonsense; but it should basically work.

    Any sort of OMG Stereoscopic Vision! drivers, though, will probably be useless in Linux. Those guys [prnewswire.com] claim to support stereoscopic shutter glasses under certain conditions; but seem to be aiming at the Real Serious Workstation market. If you can deal with normal, non-3D glasses, you should have no problems, 3D, possibly not so much.
  • but please let us know if you find some that work.
  • by camperdave (969942) on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:09AM (#26172709) Journal
    VR goggles are nothing more than miniature displays that are mounted on eyeglass frames, so I doubt there'd be a compatibility issue, per se. You may have to get your hands deep into the xwindows config files to fine tune things, though, because they likely won't be set up already. Apart from that, they should just appear to be a standard VGA display, I would think.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by N1ck0 (803359)

      Normally dual displays just expand the size of the viewing area from one camera point. To have stereoscopic support 3D images need to have 2 viewing cameras setup, at a slightly different offset; viewing the same object from different angles.

      So a dual monitor desktop still has just one perspective, for 3D you need 2.

      Its a lot easier to do this with dual displays, as you only really need to modify the camera config in openGL, or your F/X API of choice (of course this is best done in the software itself or v

    • Well, they don't work so well for me... I'm far sighted, and anything closer than about a foot from my face is a blur... No crappy low-rez vga interface 2" from my face for me..
      • by blueg3 (192743) on Friday December 19, 2008 @01:06PM (#26174863)

        Someone, somewhere is doing it wrong. VR goggles should work fine if you're farsighted. The actual location of the display isn't what matters, it's the distance your eyes need to focus to in order to bring the image into focus. With proper image separation, you should be able to focus on "distant" objects in VR goggles.

        On the other hand, often, focusing on any object for someone with normal eyesight using VR goggles is challenging.

  • is that they are all low-res. I don't think I've heard of any that are above 1024x768, and even that's considered high for those. They're gimmicks. I think they're just too bulky still. People don't want to have to put something on their faces.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by scubamage (727538)
      They do have high res ones, but they're so prohibitively expensive that I doubt anyone on here would get a pair without a hefty research grant and a very specific reason to use them. It took some heavy searching before to find one when I was interested. I sadly can't turn up any links now.
    • And if, like me, you're far sighted, they're worthless anyways.
  • There's the Z800 (Score:5, Informative)

    by zilt (33232) on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:18AM (#26172847)

    I wrote a linux kernel driver for the eMagin z800 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Z800_3DVisor [wikipedia.org] ) HMD available here: http://antimass.org/z800/ [antimass.org]

    I will be updating it over the holidays to the latest kernel release as I've finally got some time to work on it.

    • by emj (15659)

      is that 800x600 per eye or 800x300 per eye.. It's soo hard to know.

      • by emj (15659)

        400x600 per eye.. :-)

      • I've got one. The displays themselves are 800x600 per eye, rated for 60Hz. As the things gets an analog input, I've been able to feed it {pretty_much_everything}x600@{fucking_fast_framerates}.

        (Though - of course - not all column are individually visible in 1600x600 modes (works more closely to a horizontal 2x AA 800x600), and beyond 100Hz slight sync bugs make it hard to exactly match hardware pixels to signal : at 160Hz there are a couple of pixels missing in the margins).

        For those interested I published m

    • I've been playing with this driver and my 3D visor for quite some time, and I wanted to say "thank you". You work has been very useful.

      Now if we could find some way to avoid the frame flipping to get out of sync between the software and the Visor...

  • Eyetap... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GenP (686381) on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:27AM (#26172969)
    Keep bugging Steve [wikipedia.org] to release the Eyetap [wikipedia.org]. AR is way cooler than VR!
    • by Aladrin (926209)

      I'm very much looking forward to tech like this becoming more widespread.

      There's a anime/manga called 'Dennou Coil' (Cyber Coil) that's about kids that have glasses that use this kind of tech. (Project another image onto the back of the glasses to reflect into the eye.) The story was just so-so, but was worth getting through to see the different things they did with it.

  • You can probably get the goggles working fine, the problem is finding content for them. In my opinion, this is really the only thing standing in the way wide adoption of VR goggles or LCD shutter glassses. [wikipedia.org] We have the technology to do it, and I think gamers are willing to spend the money, someone just needs to write the code.
    • Re:Content (Score:4, Funny)

      by Shag (3737) on Friday December 19, 2008 @11:50AM (#26173967) Homepage

      You can probably get the goggles working fine, the problem is finding content for them.

      You mean the prospect of being able to do ls -lf in glorious 3-D color isn't sufficiently enticing?

      • Re:Content (Score:4, Funny)

        by FLEB (312391) on Friday December 19, 2008 @12:37PM (#26174495) Homepage Journal

        This adds a whole new dimension to the "schizophrenic or Bluetooth" game, watching people frantically waving their arms and ducking and peeking around nothing, mumbling "My files... where the %$#* are my FILES?"

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by genner (694963)

          This adds a whole new dimension to the "schizophrenic or Bluetooth" game, watching people frantically waving their arms and ducking and peeking around nothing, mumbling "My files... where the %$#* are my FILES?"

          You just discribed the average day at my office,

      • by genner (694963)

        You can probably get the goggles working fine, the problem is finding content for them.

        You mean the prospect of being able to do ls -lf in glorious 3-D color isn't sufficiently enticing?

        Didn't some write a 3d telnet client a while back. I'm too lazy to google for it.

    • by s_p_oneil (795792)
      Drivers have been around for a long time can take existing 3D games and make them stereoscopic if they use the depth buffer in a normal way. There are various glitches in various games, of course. I tried Descent 3 with shutter glasses about 10 years ago, and it looked awesome except for one thing. The cross-hairs were set at 0 depth, so when you focused on something you wanted to shoot, you got double-vision on the cross-hairs, making it a pain to aim at things. Other than that, the stereoscopic effect was
      • by Thelasko (1196535)

        It doesn't work without head-tracking of course, but it was so immersive that it "felt" like it would work.

        Strap a Wiimote to your head.

        Seriously, the Wii has proven that simple motion capture can be done inexpensively. Head-tracking technology is now trivial.

      • Descent 2 IIRC.

        Puketastic. Never played that one for long. With head tracking and stereo vision though.

        The only insight I got out of owning that old VR headset was that games need to maintain a general up and down to keep the puke down. Also holding on to something solid helped vs. the VFX cyberpuck...a precursor to the Wii remote.

        Helicopter sims (Longbow IIRC) where less puky then prop sims (Flight Unlimited 2) which in turn were less pukey then jet sims (Jane's ATF for DOS...defend Mothra from Gamo

        • by s_p_oneil (795792)
          Yeah, the original Descent was the only DOS game I ever bought that supported actual VR head-gear, and I can imagine it may have been worse than I hear Mirror's Edge is without VR. I didn't get dizzy or queasy at all playing stereoscopic games, but I didn't have head-tracking. I think that for HMD's to become popular, there will have to be a console like the Wii with games designed specifically for its controller. I imagine game testers wouldn't be so excited to test a game like Mirror's Edge with a console
  • Many's the time I wish I had a little more mobility or comfort with my computer.

    Not sure what that has to do with VR goggles...

    Laptops are OK, but anyone interested can see right onto my screen;

    Not sure what that has to do with VR goggles... that's a security thing...

    and a laptop doesn't quite have that 'cool' factor that VR goggles / headsets do.

    umm....

    The problem is, whenever I've looked at the options, Linux compatibility is not mentioned.

    So true. I myself have been interested in messing around with some

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by smoker2 (750216)
      The point might be that you can use the goggles to project a running linux system. Yes it would be silly if you are sitting at a desk, but a decent wearable computer with goggles could be quite nice. Eye tracking for HID and what else do you need ?
      Network the thing and crowds could be linked together, etc, etc.
    • Good question and AFAIK there really isn't nothing. If you find something let us know.

      A real HMD (Something like a VR1280 [virtualresearch.com], as opposed to the consumer-level crap that gets passed off as "VR Goggles") generally doesn't require anything like stereo support, as they take in two inputs, one for each eye. The down side is they usually run about $16k. :)

      As far as stereo support in Linux... I'm surprised you're having trouble with that. All the nVidia drivers I've used in the past three or so years have supported i

  • VR Lab (Score:5, Informative)

    by blueg3 (192743) on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:39AM (#26173113)

    The Clemson VR lab uses (or used, at least) Linux workstations to run provide input to their VR goggles. Compatibility shouldn't be an issue, but you basically have to provide content yourself -- things won't automatically be cool. We didn't even use any kind of support in the drivers -- the goggles were two 640x480 screens, but were treated as a single 1280x480 screen. We just used OpenGL to draw two versions of our scenes from slightly different positions and presented them side-by-side so that they mapped properly onto the goggles.

    Note: VR goggles are not actually cool to use. They're remarkably uncomfortable, both for your head and your eyes, and they have terrible resolution.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Since you seem to be knowledgeable about the subject:

      Do you know of any VR Goggle with a wide field of view? Everything I see has at most 40 degrees field of view, which would be like looking through a tunnel. I can get a wider field of view by standing near my monitor (Which I do).

      For things to be inmersive I would want the display to include my peripheral vision, even if only with very low resolution on the sides. I don't want to feel like I'm wearing swimming goggles.

      My personal use for it (together with

      • by blueg3 (192743)

        I'm mostly familiar with the hardware we had, which also had a narrow field of view. I don't offhand of any goggles that provide a wider field. I suspect from things that I've read and seen demo'd that there are some floating around out there.

        Now, head and eye tracking we did a fair bit of. Head tracking works very well. Eye tracking, on the other hand, was quite tricky to get working properly and particularly tricky to calibrate. We had a 3D version of Asteroids where you looked at asteroids to blow them u

        • by emj (15659)

          We had a 3D version of Asteroids where you looked at asteroids to blow them up. Using eye-tracking turns out to be difficult and headache-inducing.

          Why did it give you a headache, was it rotating and moving the display based on the eye movement or based on head movement? Because the best is of course head tracking with adaptive resolution based on where you look..

          If adaptive rendering resolution would actually work.. :-)

          • by blueg3 (192743)

            I don't know how much benefit adaptive resolution would really get you -- in these cases, you could assume that the render time was cheap, and the limiting resolution was always the hardware. You basically need the same level of resolution everywhere in the goggles, since you have good freedom of vision. (If you had large-FoV goggles, you could have a lower resolution at the edges, where you can't focus effectively, but I don't know of anyone that makes such a thing.)

            The really headache-inducing part was th

    • by Knara (9377)

      Note: VR goggles are not actually cool to use. They're remarkably uncomfortable, both for your head and your eyes, and they have terrible resolution.

      Only some have terrible resolution. As with many technological devices, as resolution increases, price generally does as well.

      • by blueg3 (192743)

        I've only seen up to 1024x768 or so, which, since they subtend a much larger portion of your view than a monitor, have much lower resolution than a 1024x768 monitor.

      • >Only some have terrible resolution.

        Link to some that don't. You can't, because there aren't any.

  • Cool == Dorky (Score:3, Informative)

    by drenehtsral (29789) on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:40AM (#26173115) Homepage

    Y'know, as somebody who has done the whole 'wearable computer' thing, just a warning: We geeks thing wearing a HMD is 'cool', most everybody else things you're a dork. (Some people even took me for a suicide bomber with my battery packs). *sigh*

    • by genner (694963) on Friday December 19, 2008 @11:03AM (#26173385)

      We geeks thing wearing a HMD is 'cool', most everybody else things you're a dork.

      So in other words it changes nothing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tchuladdiass (174342)

      And there was a point in time when wireless bluetooth headsets looked dorky. They still do, however they have become somewhat accepted.

      • Re:Cool == Dorky (Score:4, Insightful)

        by scheme (19778) on Friday December 19, 2008 @12:32PM (#26174427)

        And there was a point in time when wireless bluetooth headsets looked dorky. They still do, however they have become somewhat accepted.

        If they don't look dorky, they make you look like a self important asshole. Or you might get the best of both worlds and look like a dorky, self-important asshole.

        • by Atario (673917)

          I don't have a problem with people talking on Bluetooth headsets. Doing so can be remarkably helpful, as I myself can attest. What I do mind, however, is people wearing them all the time. This makes the person look as though either (1) he doesn't care that he looks stupid (this would be the "dorky") or (2) he believes he's so incredibly important that any delay at all in answering a call would cause severe anguish in some sector of the world (this would be the "self-important asshole").

          The same line of t

        • by SirSlud (67381)

          And here I only wanna clock Blue Tooth users in the head. I guess that's the low hanging fruit.

  • Comfort? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by socrplayr813 (1372733)

    Many's the time I wish I had a little more mobility or comfort with my computer.

    Even nice headphones get uncomfortable after long periods. I can't imagine bulky goggles are terribly comfortable...

  • no freaking way (Score:5, Informative)

    by Speare (84249) on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:58AM (#26173325) Homepage Journal

    In my last contract, I worked a VR lab with lots of toys. I have tried everything from $60 to $40,000 head mounted displays. In case you're wondering, the $60 option is an NTSC TV fed into a dimly lit monoscopic visor, while for $40,000 you get an amazing 1280x1024 digital LCD stereoscopic per eye at 90Hz. Nowhere in that range is a device that you can wear to use a GUI or a CLI interface for more than about 40 minutes. Even if your eyeball's diopter requirements are calibrated very carefully, even if your visual acuity is excellent, even if the contrast is good and the font sizes are large and beautiful, you will just not be well-served by reading text on a near-range display for more time than that.

    It may be cute in the movies, but there are no options for head mounted displays that will do what you want to do, essentially live in the visor.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blincoln (592401)

      It may be cute in the movies, but there are no options for head mounted displays that will do what you want to do, essentially live in the visor.

      Agreed. VR systems have a lot of challenges to address, but the biggest one IMO is the visual part. You've tried out a much broader range of HMDs than I have, but our experiences are very similar.

      I was disappointed enough that I've more or less discounted that type of interface until someone comes up with a high-resolution direct feed into the optic nerve or the br

  • doesn't quite have that 'cool' factor that VR goggles / headsets do

    Obviously a definition of cool of which I was previously unaware.

  • It's ok to love your computer.... but its not ok to LOVE your computer.

    Dude, unplug, go outside, read a book, do something different for a while.

  • From an Earlier Time (Score:3, Informative)

    by BigFootApe (264256) on Friday December 19, 2008 @10:10PM (#26180919)

    Hi,

        Here's some software to read a Mattel Powerglove through the Linux
    serial driver, you must be using a Menelli box to interface to the glove.
    I also wrote a predictive filter to try and eliminate glitches, a TCP-IP
    server-client pair to read data in your application, a posture look-up
    table to recognise hand shapes, and a simple attempt at recognising 6DOF
    movement with vectors and tokenising them into gestures.
        I'm not supporting the software, but I will be hacking around with it
    again after Christmas, so the only condition on using it is to send me
    any fixes, improvements, and ideas on making it better.

    (there is a also an AMI PRO document to go with this stuff, which is
    the project report I wrote for my BSc degree.)

    http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/hardware/drivers/linux-powerglove.README

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