Posts Tagged ‘virtual reality’

Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Development Kit 2 Becomes Open Source Hardware

October 11th, 2017 2 comments

Oculus Rift DK2 virtual reality headset and development kit started to ship in summer 2014. The DK2 is kind of VR headset that is connected to a more powerful computer via USB and HDMI, includes hardware for positional tracking, a 5″ display ,and two lenses for each eye.

Since then the company has been purchased by Facebook, and they’ve now decided to make the headset fully open source hardware.


Exploded view of Oculus Rift DK2 – Click to Enlarge

The release includes schematics, board layout, mechanical CAD, artwork, and specifications under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license, as well as firmware under “BSD+PATENT” licenses which you’ll all find on Github.

The release is divided into four main folders:

  • Documentation with high-level specifications for the DK2 headset, sensor, and firmware.
  • Cable with schematics and high level specifications for the cables. Custom assembly that would be hard to recreate from source. Allegedly the most complex part of the design
  • Sensor with electrical and mechanical CAD for the positional tracking sensor. Sadly the MCU firmware for this part has not been released, as it is not redistributable.
  • Headset with mainboard firmware, electrical and mechanical CAD for the headset, as well as artwork for the packaging.

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A Galaxy Note 3 AMOLED display was used for the headset, and an STMicro STM32 microcontroller handles inertial sensor data, and manages microsecond-precision timestamping for all part of the system.

Normally, such OSHW release would enable a willing individual to reproduce the kit him-/herself, but the company explains that some of the components of the kit are very hard to impossible to source today.

Via Twitter, and tip from Harley.

8K VR Headsets Are Coming, Starting with Pimax 8K

August 31st, 2017 1 comment

The user experience with current virtual reality headsets is far from ideal, because of a lack of content, the “screen-door effect“, and the screen resolution is not quite high enough since it’s so close from our eyes. 8K virtual reality headsets, with 4K per eye, should make the experience both more realistic, and minimize the screen-door effect. One of the first such products will be Pimax 8K VR headset.

It’s still a prototype that the company will showcase at IFA Berlin 2017, but we already know that beside a twin 3840 x 2160 pixel display, it will also have a 200 degree field of view, and 18 ms MTP (Motion-to-Photon) latency. The headset will ship with two motion controllers to track your movements. With the kind of processing power required to handle 8K, it’s not a standalone headset, and instead will rely on (Windows) computers with NVIDIA GeForce GTX980 or 1070 or higher graphics capabilities, be compatible with SteamVR, and also offer games and videos from PiPlay 2.0. The headset is also designed to work with motion controllers and other sensors to track you as you move through space.

It will likely take a few more years before we see standalone 8K VR headsets, since SoCs with 8K video decoder or dual 4K video decoder, and a capable 8K GPU that can do the task at relatively low power would be required. Improvements in battery density would help too. It’s quite possible we’ll first get 8K Android headset to watch 8K video or “true” 4K 3D videos since it’s a bit less challenging to implement.

Via Liliputing

$249 Pico Goblin All-in-One VR Headset is Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 Processor

June 15th, 2017 4 comments

VR headset prices range from just a few dollars for cardboard ones used with your smartphone to close to a thousand dollars for the most advanced models. The large price differences are because some models rely on your smartphone, while others leverage your computer’s processing processor, and the rest include all the electronics and display needed to work without external hardware. Companies started to launch Android All-in-One VR headset last year, but they were either rather expensive, or not quite good enough for anything except watching videos. Pico may have found the right balance between performance and price with their Goblin Virtual Reality Headset with a 5.5″ display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor couple with 3GB of RAM, and a $249 price tag.

Pico Goblin specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (or 821?) CPU
  • System Memory – 3GB LPDDR4-1866 RAM
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC 5.1 flash + micro SD card up to 128 GB
  • Display – 5.5″ TFT LCD display with 2560×1440 resolution @ 70 Hz; 92 degrees field of view (FoV)
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack for stereo headphones, mono speaker
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (2.4 GHz only), and Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB – 1x micro USB 2.0 port
  • Battery – 3,500 mAh battery good for about 2 hours and half gaming
  • Dimensions & Weight –  TBD

A motion sensor with with 3 degrees of freedom motion tracking is also included with the headset. The specifications are not quite complete, as the company did not mention any information about the lenses, IPD adjustment or weight.

There’s not a single mention of “android” or “operating system” either on the company’s website, but it’s most certainly running some version of Android like Nibiru. It’s also unclear whether Google DayDream is supported.

Pico claims 50 games will be supported at launch, and you’ll get 5 premium games when you purchase the headset. As mentioned in the introduction the price is $249 for a limited time after which it will cost $269, and includes worldwide shipping. You may find a few more details, and the Buy link on Pico Goblin’s product page.

Via Liliputing

HiSilicon Hi3796M V200 UHD DVB + H.265 STB SoC Showcased at Broadcast Asia 2017

May 25th, 2017 6 comments

Broadcast Asia international digital multimedia & entertaiment technology exhibition & conference is taking place in Singapore on May 23 – 25, and I’ve been informed that Hisilicon showcased their latest Hi3796M V200 Set-top box SoC with support for 4K DVB, H.265, and high dynamic range technology such as HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision.

Hiliscon Hi3796M V200 Board and DVB Tuner – Click to Enlarge

Key features and specifications of Hi3796M V200 processor:

  • CPU – Quad core ARM Cortex A53
  • GPU – ARM Mali-450MP
  • Memory – DDR3, DDR3L, DDR4
  • Video Output – 1x HDMI 2.0a Tx with HDCP 2.2
  • Video format – HEVC, H.264, MPEG2, MPEG4, VC1, VP9, AVS 2.0
  • HDR – HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, HDR and SDR conversion
  • HiVXE 2.0 VPU – Decoder – 4K60 10-bit; Encoder – HEVC/H.264 1080p30 or 2x 720p30
  • Ethernet – 1x Gigabit Ethernet, 1x Fast Ethernet
  • USB 2.0 – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • SATA & PCIe & USB 3.0 – USB 3.0, SATA 3.0, PCIe 2.0 host interface (optional); cnxsoft’s note: all ports are likely multiplexed, so only one is usable.
  • Transport Stream I/F – 2x TS In + 2x TS In or Out + 1x Cable IF in
  • SDIO – 2x SDIO 3.0
  • Security – Advanced DRM, and CAS (NOCS3.X), and hardware video watermark. TrustZone

The company can provide Android 7.0 and Linux SDKs with middleware and RDK for the processor and development board. HiVXE 2.0 is also said to support PiP and video transcoding. Hardware video watermark ability allows the processor to meet MovieLabs UHD premium service delivery requirements.

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It appears the company will also offer a user-friendly way to watch VR videos / 360° videos on the TV by using a mobile app or remote control to navigate in all directions while the video is playing.

I could not find any information at all on the web about Hi3796M V200 processor, so thanks to Ovi for sending pictures directly from the Broadcast Asia exhibition, and allowing us to discover this new multimedia processor.

Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+ Smartphones Launched with Infinity Screen, Samsung DeX Desktop Mode, Bixby Assistant

March 30th, 2017 2 comments

Samsung has finally launched their latest Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 processor, 5.8″ and 6.2″ screens , and some of the most interesting features include the “infinity screen” with ultra thin bezels, Samsung DeX allowing for a desktop experience on a large monitor when the phone is docked, as well as Bixby assistant.

Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+ specifications:

  • SoC (one or the other depending on markets)
    • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 octa-core processor with four Kryo 280 cores @ 2.3 GHz, four Kryo 280 cores @ 1.7 Ghz;; Adreno 540 GPU; 10nm process
    • Samsung Exynos 8895 octa-core processor with four M2+ cores @ 2.35 GHz, four Cortex A53 cores @ 1.9 GHz, ARM Mali-G71 GPU; 10nm process
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR4
  • Storage – 64GB UFS 2.0 flash; micro SD up to 256 GB
  • Display
    • Galaxy S8 – 5.8” quad HD+ (2960×1440), (570ppi)
    • Galaxy S8+ – 6.2” quad HD+ (2960×1440), (529ppi)
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack, speakers
  • Cellular Connectivity – LTE Cat.16
  • Connectivity – Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz), Bluetooth v 5.0 (LE up to 2Mbps), ANT+, NFC, GPS, Galileo, Glonass, BeiDou
  • Camera – Dual Pixel 12MP OIS (F1.7) rear camera; 8MP AF (F1 .7) front-facing camera
  • USB – USB Type-C
  • Sensors – Accelerometer, Barometer, Fingerprint Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Geomagnetic Sensor, Hall Sensor, HR Sensor, Proximity Sensor, RGB Light Sensor, Iris Sensor, Pressure Sensor
  • Battery – S8: 3,000 mAh; S8+: 3,500 mAh; fast charging; wireless charging compatible with WPC and PMA7
  • Dimensions & Weight
    • Galaxy S8 – 148.9 x 68.1 x 8.0 mm, 155g
    • Galaxy S8+ – 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1 mm, 173g
  • IP Rating – IP68 water and dust resistance

Both phones will run Android 7.0, and support payment by NFC or MST. The main innovation from the hardware perspective is the Iris scanner that allows you login to the phone by just looking at it.

Let’s see what this “infinity screen” is all about:

Samsung calls is that way because the bezel on the left & right sides are barely visible, and very thin on the bottom and top of the phone, where they still managed to cram a camera and a few sensors.

The company has also decided to start working on convergence with Samsung DeX, a desktop mode triggered when you connect the phone to a dock – called DeX Station – itself connected to a big screen. You’ll get a start menu and multi-window support a bit like in Windows Continuum, and other Android phone desktop initiatives like Remix Singularity or Auxens OXI.

Samsung’s Bixby Assistant is described as “an intelligent interface that will help users get more out of their phone. With the new Bixby button, you will be able to conveniently access Bixby and navigate through services and apps with simple voice, touch and text commands. Contextual awareness capabilities enable Bixby to offer personalized help based on what it continues to learn about the user’s interests, situation and location. Users can easily shop, search for images and get details about nearby places with Bixby’s image recognition technology”. So it’s not only a voice assistant, but also learns about the user’s habit, and can leverage image recognition for example to translate signs written in a foreign language.

The phones can also be used for virtual reality using Gear VR with Controller powered by Oculus, or to capture 4K 360-degree videos, 15MP photos, or stream 2K live videos with Gear 360.

Samsung Galaxy S8 & S8+ pre-orders will begin on March 30, 2017, for respectively $750 & $850 (MSRP) with a free GearVR headset with controller. The phones will also be found in shop – in the US – starting on April 21, 2017, where you’ll also be able to buy Gear VR with Controller for $129.99,  or just the controller for $39.99. Visit Samsung S8/S8+ product page for further details.

Avegant Glyph a Headphone with Two DLP Projectors Acting as Your Own Portable Home Theater

March 7th, 2017 2 comments

I reviewed my first and only Android VR headset last year, and while it was fun to use for short periods, I found it very uncomfortable to my eyes and head for periods of usage over 15 minutes, and would definitely not watch an entire movie on such device. Avegant’s engineers worked for a headset for the military that had to be used for long periods of time, and they found they could adapt their product for consumer use and create Avegant Glyph, and alternative to VR headset that looks like a stereo headset, but also includes two 720p DLP projectors placed right in front of your eyes, hereby creating your own private, and portable – home theater.

Avegant Glyph specifications:

  • Resolution – 1280x720p per eye via 2 million micro-mirrors
  • Aspect Ratio – 16:9
  • Field of view – ~40° diagonal
  • Diopter Adjustment – +1 to -7 range
  • Adjustable IPD, and projectors vertical position.
  • Head Tracking – 9 Axis IMU
  • Video & Audio Input – micro HDMI
  • Audio-Only Input – 3.5mm TRRS (standard AUX)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz; Dynamic Range: 95 dB
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for charging
  • Battery – 2,060 mAh Li Ion battery with up to 4 hours video playback, and unlimited passive audio
  • Dimensions – 190.5 x 190.5 x 101.6 mm
  • Weight – 411 grams

The device weight is about the same as the virtual reality headset I used, but I can still believe it might be more comfortable due to the different weight distribution. It’s also not a standalone device, so you need to connect a source via the micro HDMI port and/or audio jack, which in many cases means purchasing a XXX to micro HDMI adapter. The Glyph firmware can be upgraded for “enhanced features and capabilities”. Beside watch 2D and 3D movies, it can also be used for 3D gaming, flying drones, private mode while connected to laptop, etc…  Note that contrary to VR headset, you still have peripheral vision, which may be an downside since it’s less immersive, and an upside, as you are still aware of the environment around you.

Charbax interviewed a company’s representative as they showcased the Glyph at Mobile World Congress 2017.

Avegant Glyph first started to sell in the US last year, and some larger blog already reviewed it, such as Wired and Engadget, and while they really liked the video and audio experience, they still found it to be a little uncomfortable to use for longer duration, although it was an improvement over VR headsets. Customer feedback on Amazon, where is it sold for $499, is positive on average, but with many mixed reviews, possibly because the company made some adjustments to their product since they fist launched it. You’ll find more information on Avegant website.

GOLE 360 Video Camera Review & 360 Degrees Videos Desktop Experiments

March 5th, 2017 3 comments

GOLE has designed GOLE 360 video camera to connect to your smartphone via its micro USB, or USB type C port, and let you shot 360 degrees videos or photos.  The company has sent me a review sample with a USB type C port in order to test it with Vernee Apollo Lite Android smartphone. I’ve spent about two days playing with it, so I’ll report my experience with the 360° camera, and my attempts at playing the videos back on my computer.

GOLE 360 Unboxing

The camera is sent in a white retail box with “Micro USB” or “Type C” option, and as requested I got the latter.

The camera comes with a pouch, a useful user’s manual in English, and a USB to USB type C cable. I did not use the latter since I instead charge the camera with my phone’s power adapter and cable.

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One side of device comes with a wide angle camera and the power button, while the other includes another wide angle camera, two LEDs: blue for recording status, orange & green for power & charging status, a small microphone opening on another side, and on the bottom: a reset button, a USB type C port for charging, and a micro SD slot.

Click to Enlarge

If you have ordered the micro USB port version, you’ll get a micro USB port for the phone connector, and the same USB Type-C port shown above for charging.

Gole 360 Initial Setup

The camera’s battery should have some charge, but you may still want to fully charge it before using it. The LED will blink with orange color during charging, and blink with green color once it is fully charged.

My phone is up to 1 cm thick in the area around the USB type C port, and the camera does not fit perfectly, but it still usable.

You can scan the QR code in the user’s manual, or download it directly in order to install GOLE 360 Android app. I used Gole%C2%A0360_1.0.2.apk & HiGole_1.0.6.apk (from the previous link) for this review, but I did not see any obvious differences. You’ll also want to insert a micro SD card formatted with FAT32, as the app cannot record photos or videos directly into your phone’s storage.

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As soon as you start Gole 360 app, the screen with rotate upside down, and you should see a blue screen showing no file. This will be fine for most phones, but in case your manufacturer decided to put the USB port on the top of the phone, it might not be convenient to use. Now we can press the power button for five seconds in order to start the camera and use it. The green LED should be on at this stage. Note that the LEDs are not very bright, and while that’s good enough indoors, they are very difficult to see outdoors. The user’s manual also explains how to use the camera in standalone mode. i.e. without smartphone, but I don’t think it would be very convenient so I skipped that part.

Gole 360 App and 360° Photo Shots and Video Recording

We now need to press the top right “camera” icon to connect to the camera by enabling USB Tethering. I had to do that each time I started the app, except for the middle step after selection “Do not prompt”.

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Once USB tethering is enabled go back and you should see the camera output in sphere mode (left), but you can also switch to planet mode (center), or flat mode (right) using the bottom left icon in the main zone. You can pinch to zoom in/out, ad swipe to move up/down and/or left/right in all three views.

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The battery level is shown on the top right together with the remaining number of photos or video time based on the free space on the micro SD card. I had not installed a micro SD card at that time thinking I could record to the phone’s storage, and that’s why it shows “0”. Another option is “virtual reality mode”, but it can only be used during live preview or playback, as this mode is designed to be used with virtual reality headsets while watching the video.

Virtual Reality Mode

The bottom bar of the app has three icons for file manager, shot photo/record video, and switch between photo/video mode. At first I recorded videos in sphere, planet , and flat modes, but I soon felt stupid, as I discovered it does not change the output format of the photo or the video, only the way it is shown.

You may also want to change the settings by pressing the bottom right button.

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I did not change anything, and tested with the default options: 1920×[email protected], 5MP, and normal recording. Once you’ve recorded a few video, you can access the file manager to watch your videos or check out your photo using the four modes: sphere, planet, flat or VR. There’s also a “download” icon to transfer the videos / photos to the internal storage of your phone.

I’ll include some raw samples if you want to check it out by yourself. You just need to install Gole 360 app to watch them on your Android phone, TV box, or VR headset.

You could also watch the short demo below to more clearly understand how some of the features.

Attempts at Playing GOLE 360 videos on Laptop / Desktop Computer

The easiest way to watch the 360° videos or photos recorded by the camera on a big screen is by using GOLE 360 app on a TV box, your phone with a VR headset, or a standalone Android VR headset. But I wanted to try to play the videos on my (Ubuntu 16.04) computer. So I took out the micro SD card, and browse to DCIM/100CVR directory with two more subdirectory for “Video” and “Photo”. I clicked  on one of of the MP4 videos in the Video folder, and it started Totem video player with the video looking like the screenshot below.

So obviously , we need a special 360° video player to play those files, and I found GoPro VR Player, that very easy to install on Linux as a Deb package is provided. If you prefer an open source program, VLC 360 (beta) can be used but the developers only release binaries for Windows or Mac in binary format. Source code is available for Linux, which means you’d have to built it from source, until your distribution packages it, or somebody offers a ppa or equivalent. Anyway for a quick test, I played the video in GoPro VR player, and it “worked” , well sort of, as the stichting job is awful.

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So far my main experiebce with 360° videos is through YouTube, so I directly uploaded a video, and it looked like the first Totem screenshot. After further research I found the videos need to be processed before upload. YouTube also explains:

The following 360 cameras are compatible with YouTube and are available today or coming soon: Ricoh Theta, Kodak SP360, IC Real Tech Allie

YouTube currently supports 360° videos with 24, 25, 30, 48, 50, or 60 frames per second. We recommend uploading  360 videos (equirectangular format with a 2:1 aspect ratio) at a resolution of 7168×3584 or higher, up to 8192×4096.


With our 1920×960 camera we are quite far from the recommend upload settings, but I tried anyway, and downloaded and installed Spatial Meta Data Injector for Windows. Selected one of the MP4 videos on the micro SD card, made sure “My video is spherical (360), and clicked on Inject Metadata, which will save the video with the suffix _injected.

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I uploaded the videos on YouTube, and it “worked” but with the ugly stitching job.

So I have not found a proper way to play videos in my computer, or upload them to YouTube. There’s probably no standard for 360° videos so everybody is doing their own method, but it would probably be a good idea to make it compatible with YouTube…

If you don’t mind playing the videos with GOLE 360 Android app, and you can purchase GOLE 360 for $104.81 shipped and up on GearBest or Banggood.

GOLE360 360 Degrees Video Camera Works with Android Smartphones and in Standalone Mode

January 23rd, 2017 No comments

GOLE is better known for their mini PC tablet combos like GOLE1 and GOLE1 Plus, but the company is about to launch GOLE360 360 Degree Panorama VR Action Camera looking very similar to Insta360 Nano camera, but instead of being designed for iPhones, they made is for Android smartphones with either a micro USB port, or a USB type C port.

GOLE360 camera specifications:

  • SoC – InfoTM C23 32-bit processor @ up to 600MHz with 128MB RAM on-chip
  • Storage – micro SD slot up to 128GB
  • Camera
    • 4 MP sensor
    • Camera lens: aperture F2.4,  focuses: Efl 0.94, angle: 210o
    • Video – H.264/MOV up to 1920×[email protected] /1472×[email protected]
    • Photo – JPEG @ 3008×1504 /1920×960
  • USB – 1x micro USB 2.0 port, or 1x USB 2.0 type C port depending on model
  • Battery – 3.7V/800mAh
  • Dimensions – 11.68 x 3.7 x 2.2cm

The camera runs Linux 3.10. This is not the first 360 degree camera for Android smartphone, and we’ve covered Insta360 Air spherical camera, but GOLE360 offers a different form factor, and includes a battery which will allow you to use it in standalone mode. The Android app is currently only available as an apk, and is supposed to support photo and video recording and streaming using flash, sphere, VR and planet modes.

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“HIGOLE GOLE360” camera is up for pre-order for $118.66 on GearBest with shipping planed for after March 2nd.