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Input Devices Displays Hardware Hacking Build Games

Reverse Engineering the Oculus Rift DK2's Positional Tracking Tech 26

An anonymous reader writes The Oculus Rift DK2 VR headset hides under its IR-transparent shell an array of IR LEDs which are picked up by the positional tracker. The data is used to understand where the user's head is in 3D space so that the game engine can update the view accordingly, a critical function for reducing sim sickness and increasing immersion. Unsurprisingly, some endeavoring folks wanted to uncover the magic behind Oculus' tech and began reverse engineering the system. Along the way, they discovered some curious info including a firmware bug which, when fixed, revealed the true view of the positional tracker.
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Reverse Engineering the Oculus Rift DK2's Positional Tracking Tech

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  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @01:13PM (#48104235) Homepage

    The Oculus Rift tracking method, with various lights blinking at different rates, was first used in Twinkle Box [researchgate.net], in 1974. It was really clunky then. They had to use rotating-disk cameras because vidicons had too much lag, and the wearer had to wear a big electronics box. Same idea, though.

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Yes, it's not new and I imagine it still suffers from the same problems it always has (multiple frames required in order to identify which LED it actually is, sync issues requiring extra cabling, etc.).

  • by Jherico ( 39763 ) <(gro.saerdnatnias) (ta) (sivadb)> on Thursday October 09, 2014 @01:21PM (#48104301) Homepage
    I think that the article kind of unfairly glosses over my contribution. I posted the original reddit thread, and I'm the one who discovered the codes required to actually enable the LEDs on the device. I appreciate that Oliver is an actual VR researcher, but I did this in part to get some visibility for the book I'm writing on Oculus Rift development [manning.com].
    • by blueshift_1 ( 3692407 ) on Thursday October 09, 2014 @01:42PM (#48104495)
      Welcome to the internet where the facts are made up and citations don't matter...
    • Article mentions me! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jherico ( 39763 ) <(gro.saerdnatnias) (ta) (sivadb)> on Thursday October 09, 2014 @02:20PM (#48104865) Homepage
      Never mind. They've corrected the article.
      • Sorry to highjack this thread for an OT question, but: Do you know if there is a way to emulate OR DK2's tracking data? I would like to homebrew a very poor man's Oculus Rift. The screen should be no problem, and there are many IMUs available - but how would i get an Oculus-enabled game to read the IMUs data?
        • by Jherico ( 39763 )
          The Oculus SDK license specifically forbids using it to connect to non-Oculus hardware. On the other hand, they've recently released the full specs of the DK1 as open source, so it's now possible to legally build a piece of hardware that the SDK itself can't distinguish from the real thing. Hypothetically speaking, since the most recent version of the SDK relies on a runtime to communicate with the hardware, if you could spoof the runtime communication (which happens over a socket) then you could use any
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Unsurprisingly, some endeavoring folks wanted to uncover the magic behind Oculus' tech and began reverse engineering the system.

    No, what they actually wanted was to use the SDK under Linux. Oculus says they support Linux on their dk2 website: http://www.oculus.com/dk2/

    The Oculus Rift and the Oculus SDK currently support Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

    They neglect to mention that now 2.5 month after the dk2 (windows) release, they still do in fact *not* support linux and they still don't know whether Linux will be supported in their next release: https://developer.oculusvr.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=15318&status=1#p201687

    Oculus has shown that there is probably nothing of lower priority than actually sup

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