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DIY Augmented Reality Heads-Up Display

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the because-reality-is-boring dept.

Hardware Hacking 39

mkwan writes "A PhD student in Melbourne, Australia, has built an augmented reality head-up display using a baseball cap, an Android smartphone, and off-the-shelf optics. It won't win any awards for style or practicality, but it's a fun way to use Wikitude. All we need now is a Terminator-vision smartphone app." Not nearly as modern, but vaguely related: the Private Eye P4.

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What? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411007)

How can such possible?

Ahhh! To be! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411035)

Such possibility...

PhD student in Melb Aus beaten up in 3...2...1.... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411053)

Okay I really don't see the story here. How is this better than App Blaster?? Other than making you look like a dork and attracting bullies I mean???

Re:PhD student in Melb Aus beaten up in 3...2...1. (1, Insightful)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411253)

This is the same guy who wrote the partially completed android X11 server that was posted on /. recently. I didn't see the story there either. I mean, it was impressive that he had implemented most of X11 by himself, but a fully featured x11 app already existed on the market ( here [google.com] ), so I don't consider it newsworthy.

How does his blog keep getting on /.'s front page?

Re:PhD student in Melb Aus beaten up in 3...2...1. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411393)

Do you understand VNC? That app works by rendering everything to an offscreen framebuffer in RAM, then VNC copies it into a separate process's RAM (I presume directly into the display framebuffer). This means no hardware acceleration for the X server, and some battery-draining CPU load for copying the pixels. It gets particularly bad if you attempt e.g. video playback, where the normal flow is sending YUV (or similar) data directly to the video card, which handles scaling and RGB conversion in hardware, and X/VNC requires software RGB conversion, software scaling, blitting to the X framebuffer, and copying to the display.

A native X server like we have on the HP touchpad will at least address the wasted CPU usage; I'm not sure it's feasible to provide hardware acceleration in either case (you'd need to implement an OpenGL ES proxy, something like XDMX or chromium). This, of course, is where Maemo/MeeGo shines with native X support, but a proper X server for Android will at least reduce the penalty.

Re:PhD student in Melb Aus beaten up in 3...2...1. (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about 2 years ago | (#39412347)

Yes I understand the difference between VNC and X11, but for the typical android phone/tablet use case of using wifi x11 tunnelling over ssh to a remote server running X apps, none of the performance issues you mention (hardware acceleration, video streaming) are relevant at all.

Both the "native" X11 server and the "fake" X11 in a VNC session will have essentially the same performance it that situation.

Re:PhD student in Melb Aus beaten up in 3...2...1. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39412431)

I'm fairly certain that's not the typical use case at all. The typical use case AIUI is a debian or ubuntu install in a chroot on the tablet. If you're running the app remotely, wouldn't you just use NX, and get better performance than X11 for WAN latencies?

And again, copying pixels between processes -- it won't be a big slow-down on modern devices, but it will keep the processor busy when it should be idle, and that means it costs you battery life... maybe this is just something we disagree on, but IMO that alone makes a native implementation /.-worthy.

Re:PhD student in Melb Aus beaten up in 3...2...1. (1)

niftydude (1745144) | about 2 years ago | (#39412963)

The first line in the description of the native X server app is

This application implements a mostly-complete X11 server, running natively in Android. It allows X Window System applications to be run remotely and displayed on an Android device with internet access.

(bolding mine) which is why I assumed most people used it for ssh tunneling.

You may want to run the app remotely rather than NX for many reasons - accessing data or controlling hardware on a remote server for example. Your point about copying pixels between processes is certainly correct for your use case of a local chrooted OS install. However, for my ssh tunnelling use case, I'm not sure I agree, because the VNC pixel copying and X11 rendering occurs on the remote server, so doesn't cost battery life on the client device - what is sent to the mobile device to be displayed is essentially a partial jpg image. A mouse moving would only cause the pixels effected by that movement to be sent and modified. For this use case - it might be the native x server that uses more cpu - since it has to interpret and render the X11 protocol using a more complex algorithm. It would certainly be borderline as to which technique uses more power on the client device, I think it would depend on the using patterns, and I don't think it can be said that one technique uses more power on the client device in all cases.

Re:PhD student in Melb Aus beaten up in 3...2...1. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39414559)

The first line in the description of the native X server app is

This application implements a mostly-complete X11 server, running natively in Android. It allows X Window System applications to be run remotely and displayed on an Android device with internet access.

(bolding mine) which is why I assumed most people used it for ssh tunneling.
 

Fair enough. Maybe that's more common than I thought. I had no clue it said that, because of course I didn't RTFA. ;)

You may want to run the app remotely rather than NX for many reasons - accessing data or controlling hardware on a remote server for example.

NX [wikipedia.org] is running it remotely -- it's a remote-desktop technology based on X that generally does better than X11 WRT latency and better than VNC WRT bandwidth -- it's generally considered the best of the three, at least for typical WAN connections.

Your point about copying pixels between processes is certainly correct for your use case of a local chrooted OS install. However, for my ssh tunnelling use case, I'm not sure I agree, because the VNC pixel copying and X11 rendering occurs on the remote server, so doesn't cost battery life on the client device - what is sent to the mobile device to be displayed is essentially a partial jpg image.

Except what you're discussing doesn't correspond to the X/VNC app you linked -- that app runs both a local X server and a VNC client, so you get X protocol coming to the device, rendered by the server, then copied across to the VNC client. What you're describing here (which is a reasonable enough option), is what you get if you run a remote VNC server, and run only a VNC client (not that X/VNC bundle) locally. I agree that VNC alone might well have lower power than X11 alone, but either one will be lower power than running both of them on the tablet, which is what the app you linked does.

Not goofy looking at all (4, Funny)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411089)

It must also augment his reflection in the mirror if he thinks he should go outside with a smartphone and a block of styrofoam taped to his hat.

What (S)he think... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411115)

Have ask what 'You don't say (so)!' think It is a pus to think such Christ alive!

Re:What (S)he think... (2)

million_monkeys (2480792) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411279)

Have ask what 'You don't say (so)!' think It is a pus to think such Christ alive!

Obviously.
You're preaching to the choir here buddy.

Re:What (S)he think... (1)

Boscrossos (997520) | about 2 years ago | (#39413703)

I find your statement intriguing, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Modifications. (2)

Bruce McBruce (791094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411167)

1. Make mountable earpiece with technician one-ear headset.
2. Link lens to single eyepiece.
3. HUD app.
4. Make deliberately fragile and cheap.
5. Infinite business as geeks the world over keep buying them to crush while screaming that it's over 9000.

Re:Modifications. (1)

Saija (1114681) | about 2 years ago | (#39412585)

6. ???
7. Profit

Re:Modifications. (1)

ottothecow (600101) | about 2 years ago | (#39413245)

You mean like the android-phone connected ski goggle systems that already exist? [reconinstruments.com]

Its not quite a HUD yet (more of a screen in a part of your vision that would be obscured by the goggles) but its pretty cool. Far less than $9000 although still more than I'd be willing to pay--would be kind of cool to get some live stats plus trail maps showing where all of your friends are on the mountain.

Re:Modifications. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39414679)

WHOOSH!!!!

CV value and what Apple is to spend on now (2)

robi5 (1261542) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411207)

He could have reduced the CV value of the gear if he didn't use double mirroring - i.e. the phone could be horizontal, screen down. One fewer mirror is better quality. Software can mirror the screen contents (I tried an Iphone in a similar setup, using the car windshield as the mirror). As a next project, the camera could continuously monitor the user's eyeballs and determine where in the real life and on the screen he is looking at, including depth! Also, whenever an image is shown on the screen to augment reality, the phone uses not plain images but light field camera (Lytro; might go on the hat too) pictures so it can be refocused as the user's eyes indicate various depth. Stuff like this becomes almost practical: http://vimeo.com/timoarnall/light-painting-wifi [vimeo.com] and add CMU Johnny Chung Lee's techniques for depth simulation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jd3-eiid-Uw&feature=player_detailpage#t=165s) and motion tracking (Minority Report). Maybe for better precision, use some laser light to determine the focus depth and exact direction the user looks at. Then Apple should blow 10Bn on converting the entire gear into one fashionable eyepiece, that doubles as sunglasses, available with a black or - much later - white frame. _That_ will bring the CV value down.

Re:CV value and what Apple is to spend on now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411241)

"the phone could be horizontal, screen down" -> You never used an AR browser before, did you?

Re:CV value and what Apple is to spend on now (1)

robi5 (1261542) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411423)

The compass works (well, to the extent it does) when the phone is horizontal (and that way only, AFAIK); accelerometers etc. work all different ways, and AR software *could* take orientation into account. And btw. with augmented reality, all kinds of positions should be prepared for by the browser vendor. With a ducttaped baseball cap headgear, Layar's use case is invalid - you don't wander around in Rome searching for the nearest pizzeria (nothing wrong with the contraption but the baseball caps suck in general, esp. on tourists). In a headgear like that, you would probably crawl under a car, trying to repair it from overlaid CAD drawings, or go into a cave, an oil pipe or in general, anywhere dark (literally and figuratively) with no other people around. Just add more ducttape to fasten to the head and it becomes useful.

Re:CV value and what Apple is to spend on now (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411567)

He used a standard AR-Browser (Wikitude, which existed long before Layar) to build a proof-of-concept thing with available hardware and software.
Since the standard use-case for that software is displaying something on the screen of your smartphone, camera orientation matters (even if he's not using the camera in this case).
Of course I wouldn't go wandering around with that stuff on my head, but I think that's not the point. He wanted to prove that it can be done without custom hardware or software.
Reminds me of "the warper" (http://www.noah.org/acidwarp/warper.html) - the key is "DIY".

Re:CV value and what Apple is to spend on now (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 2 years ago | (#39413521)

The dual mirror is easier... because requires no screen flipping. But you're right, if you get to fiddle with the device (phone) and flip the screen contents, then a single mirror is better as there's less light losses.

Real reality (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411299)

Look up from your iPhone and you will see it.

Stock-tacking questionnaire (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411347)

European Network and information Security Agency (ENISA)

Stock taking questionnaire for an Inventory of Information Security sources

March 2012

The Agency has launched a stock taking exercise , using a questionnaire to establish an Inventory of publicly available sources on Information Security. Using already existing information in an aggregated format will lead to faster assessments with less effort.

Therefore, collection and aggregation of existing data and sources is an effective tool to raise information security.

A main objective of this work is to include publicly available information on information security risks and opportunities, to be used in all upcoming assessments. The result of the stock-taking exercise/questionnaire is an online inventory.

In the framework of the Agency’s work on “Identifying and Responding to the Evolving Threat Environment” in 2012, ENISA assesses emerging risks and opportunities. This forward-looking activity is an essential step to address future information security challenges. Collection and aggregation of existing quantitative data is a long-term objective that will be refined in future versions of the Agency Work Programme.

The questionnaire is among other things looking at organisational issues, security risks, opportunities, and security trends.

How to contribute?

Fill in the stock-taking questionnaire

http://www.enisa.europa.eu/media/news-items/stock-taking-questionnaire-for-an-inventory-of-information-security-sources

damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39411667)

that was my plan for the raspberry pi. but i'd make it look good

In breaking news... (1)

enaso1970 (759924) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411751)

...and the the first thing he looked at WASN'T porn. Which would be a first for any new display technology

Still deserves credit (2)

Ardyvee (2447206) | more than 2 years ago | (#39411759)

I guess the whole point of it is to say that it is rather easy to create a (although perhaps rather ugly) HMD. Which is nowhere for use by common folk. The whole point of it proving that there is no real excuse for there not to be on the market other than no demand for it.

Say what you want, but he at least managed to get it working. Which I didn't, and I haven't seen somebody selling one of those.

Previous research (2)

BlueLightning (442320) | about 2 years ago | (#39411957)

Seems like augmented reality has been a popular research area in Australia for a while. At LCA a few years ago there was a presentation by another PhD student on his AR project and I even got to try out the gear (somewhat bulkier than this latest one though):

http://www.tinmith.net/ [tinmith.net]

Build vs. buy (1, Troll)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#39411963)

While his project is cute, there are already commercial solutions [buytvhatnow.com] that are pretty much the same thing.

P.S. I am not responsible if you decide to AR while biking on real roads...

Re:Build vs. buy (2)

mkwan (2589113) | about 2 years ago | (#39412019)

The TV Hat looks awesome, but it's a virtual reality setup, not augmented reality. You can't see where you're going while you're wearing it.

Re:Build vs. buy (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#39414351)

The TV Hat looks awesome

You must have been a brilliantly easy kid to buy Christmas presents for.

No, mummy and daddy, I don't need a silly Nintendo DS or iPad. Who needs that when I can have this awesome dirty piece of string tied to a stick?

Re:Build vs. buy (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | about 2 years ago | (#39414133)

Maybe I'm too jaded, but that TV hat is just a joke, right?

gotta look sharp (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#39412067)

A PhD student in Melbourne, Australia, has built an augmented reality head-up display using a baseball cap, an Android smartphone, and off-the-shelf optics.

Does it have to be a baseball cap? Can I have mine in a propeller beanie or a leopard-skin pillbox hat? Maybe a motorcycle helmet because you know I'm going to be crashing into all kinds of stuff trying to ride my bike while I play Counter-Strike on this thing.

Why is don't we have AR already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39412107)

This is something that is a bit puzzling to me, surely now we have all the required technology to make AR as common as smartphones?

Take a smartphone, create genuinely useful and interesting software, add a stylish minimal heads up display in a pair of glasses and eventually contacts or laser retina scanner, add some sensors and a camera and we have everything we need, this all exists today but hardly anyone seems interested in developing a proper setup and selling it with a smartphone, i believe it will be the next big thing after mobile phones and the internet, when the world meets the virtual there's a lot of possibilities.

Re:Why is don't we have AR already? (1)

SpanglerIsAGod (2052716) | about 2 years ago | (#39420949)

I think there are a couple of things holding AR back right now. One is that I don't think object recognition is quite up to the task yet. I don't think we have good software yet that can see a picture of an everyday object and recognize what it is well enough to pull up information about it, and facial recognition still has a high amount of false positives.

Another issue will be privacy. If you think Google can track you now, wait until people start buying Google AR camera/display contacts and they can monitor everything you look at.

I was hoping to buffer reality... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 2 years ago | (#39412181)

not augment it, but then I realized that it would just go faster and faster the longer I was in it. That's when I decided to go back to bed.

progress (1)

k6mfw (1182893) | about 2 years ago | (#39412509)

It's sloppy, it has no "value," it will not win awards,.... and that is how progress is made. Value is he went and built something, unlike everybody else simply buys. He has an idea, ideas are a time a dozen, and he created something of substance and that takes time and expense. During that time, he learned what works, what doesn't work, and what parts and tools needed to build things.

I've been going through something similar of packaging 900MHz amateur TV transmitter and a receiver in a box for field use. Sounds simple but somehow video signal is losing horz sync, it might be some bad connections and it has been a pain in the ass to find. Particularly I don't know anyone with complimentary devices for me to test my signals. Everyone else says just go iPhone, no need for ATV. But they missed the point because I want something I can fully control without subscriber fees, EULAs, etc. Of course to really do it like real men, design a circuit from scratch (but very few in USA can do that nowadays).

Would be interesting (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39421921)

if I could build one of these into my motorcycle helmet & have Google Nav on my face shield

Re:Would be interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39423867)

i looked at that site ottothecow mentioned [reconinstruments.com] and they linked to a survey they are carrying out for motorcycle helmets - found it here: http://blog.reconinstruments.com/post/18926765528/recon-instruments-motorcycle-survey

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