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Adding a Web Camera to the Oculus Rift Can be Quite Helpful

April 18th, 2013 · 23 Comments · 3D / AR / VR / HMD

oculus-rift-plus-webcam


You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been playing mostly with the Oculus Rift Dev Kit since I’ve got my unit and the good thing is that even though so far only about 2K development kits were shipped the community is very active and there are new development around the Rift all the time. Now, since the Rift covers your vision completely and when you put on headphones for the sound you kind of get completely cut off from the “real world”, and though that this has advantages it also brings some disadvantages. Like having a hard time finding the keyboard or the mouse on your desk without taking off the Rift, so I’ve decided to see what can we do to easily get around this problem. The solution is actually quite simple – add a webcam with a wide angle lens so that when you are wearing the Rift you can switch to the camera and see your desk or what is happening around you. I’ve had a suitable webcam around and by replacing the standard lens with a wider angle one I got this simple and easy to use solution working almost perfectly.


oculus-rift-plus-webcam-2


I’ve mounted the camera with Velcro in the center of the Rift and then fired up the Stereoscopic Player with Live Video mode on and the monoscopic camera input set to output using the Oculus Rift viewing method. The web camera is with 640×480 resolution and 30 fps and that seems to work quite well, it also has a set of LEDs for use in dark environments (including a set of IR LEDs) and plugs via USB, it also has a microphone, though I was not able to make it work under Stereoscopic Player. Now, you can easily extend this solution by adding two web cameras f the same model on your Rift to get a stereoscopic 3D video input with the help of the Stereoscopic Multiplexer dual-camera capture solution developers by Peter Wimmer, the author of the Stereoscopic Player. You need to run the Stereoscopic Player in full-screen mode and you can switch between it and the currently running Oculus Rift-compatible game or application by the key combination ALT + TAB. The only drawback here is that you need to be able to hit the key combination, but you can thing of something more creative to be mapped to that combination to make it easier two switch between the two. It works surprisingly well and is a modification that everyone should be able to easily make, even with two cameras for stereo 3D video input (placed at the right distance based on your IPD), the key thing is to use a wider angle lenses instead of the standard ones that would probably be with a narrower angle.


If we get integrated stereo camera solution with an easy to activate overlay or switch between the camera input and application input or combining them both in a future version the Oculus Rift it would also be able to become a device capable not only of VR with stereo 3D support, but for AR applications as well. Meanwhile, the next thing to try out for me is to get rid of all the cables and make the Oculus Rift completely mobile and wirelessly connected to the PC – the display and the headtracker, along with suitable wireless controllers and wireless headphones as well powered by a battery and all inside a backapack on the user’s back. This however would probably take some more time to complete…

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23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ryan // Apr 18, 2013 at 21:52

    Sweet!

  • 2 HappyHimitsu // Apr 19, 2013 at 00:32

    Freaking awesome!
    I was just talking to my Wife about the implications for AR in the OR if one was to integrate stereo camera’s into it’s functionality!
    There are so many cool applications I can think of for this idea it’s not funny.
    Virtual meetups in YOUR OWN HOME.
    :)

  • 3 Alex // Apr 19, 2013 at 02:44

    Please send your feedback and idea to the creator. It would be awesome if the final product could come out with a camera already built in!

  • 4 macktruk // Apr 19, 2013 at 08:33

    There were some prototype renders of the Consumer version of the Occulus rift from I think an NVidia conference, and it clearly showed stereo cameras built into the front.. You can see it on the Rifts facebook page.

    super AR on the way

  • 5 Ryan // Apr 19, 2013 at 11:32

    We need a youtube video please !!

    http://www.pcper.com/files/imagecache/article_max_width/news/2013-04-01/Oculus%20VR%20Emerging%20Companies%20Summit_GTC2013%20(6).jpg

    check this out too

    it’s the planned design for the final build (it’s open to change but its a goal the’ve set for Optimal Vr)

    http://www.pcper.com/files/imagecache/article_max_width/news/2013-04-01/Oculus%20VR%20Emerging%20Companies%20Summit_GTC2013%20(6).jpg

  • 6 Bloody // Apr 19, 2013 at 15:59

    I’ve added a video showing the Rift with the webcam in action…

  • 7 GDL // Apr 19, 2013 at 23:13

    @Ryan

    1080p for the OR?! Freaking Awesome!!

  • 8 eqzitara // Apr 21, 2013 at 01:54

    Great info about adding a web camera. I remember a few people said they couldn’t get a rift because they couldnt afford to be cut off real world.

    Might come a day when something like this has a real world application. Would be pretty awesome to see kids use something like this with a bundled software learning to key on keyboard properly.

  • 9 Uni // Apr 23, 2013 at 12:28

    It looks asif it will cover your ears during usage, due to the strap.
    Doesnt this hurt your ears and obstructs your hearing :S
    I would like to wear my own headphones and enjoy binaural sound.

    Do you have any pictures where you wear the thing, and how it influences ur ears?

  • 10 Uni // Apr 23, 2013 at 12:30

    Oh in the video at the end you have some shootage, that looks okish tbh.

  • 11 Bloody // Apr 23, 2013 at 12:37

    The straps can be adjusted easily so that they will not cover your ears at least for adults, so don’t worry about that…

  • 12 optical10 // Apr 25, 2013 at 16:45

    Looks like Skyrim needs your mod.

    http://www.engadget.com/2013/04/23/oculus-rift-skyrim/?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=Feed_Classic&utm_campaign=Engadget

  • 13 MikeArms24 // Apr 27, 2013 at 22:19

    Bloody, is it possible to do this with two webcams for 3d? thanks

  • 14 Bloody // Apr 29, 2013 at 11:24

    It is possible to do it with two webcams, I just did not have a second wide angle lens to do it with to cameras. You’ll also need to use the Stereoscopic Multiplexer software to join the two video streams into a single 3d one.

  • 15 Shannon // May 4, 2013 at 17:56

    If OR had webcams built in, it might even be possible to allow for “ghost imaging” of your keyboard to help with typing and finger placement in games. So sitting at the desk, for example, you could look down inside the game, and see a partially transparent overlay of the real word, such as your keyboard and hands.

  • 16 MikeArms24 // May 20, 2013 at 21:16

    Hey Bloody,

    I was wondering how you would say the Rift compares to a 27″ 3d vision monitor or say a three monitor 3d vision setup as far as immersion and overall fun. I’m really looking forward to getting mine, but I know I’ll be wanting the consumer version before long because of the resolution. Also, I don’t think I’ve heard a whole lot of Rift reviews from experienced 3d vision enthusiasts. A lot of the people are commenting on the 3d of the rift like it’s some new thing to have 3d in games, which we know it’s not.

    thanks

  • 17 MikeArms24 // May 20, 2013 at 23:35

    Hi Bloody,
    Scratch that, just read your first impressions review (missed that somehow). I haven’t been on 3dvision-blog for a while though I am back now, long time reader and fan of your site!

    thanks

  • 18 chluaid // Jun 7, 2013 at 09:35

    Thanks! Why didn’t I think of this? I tried it myself and it works perfectly. Took mere seconds to set up. http://imgur.com/gallery/3SUHQqj/

  • 19 CountBorgula // Sep 18, 2013 at 16:37

    What webcam did you use for this, and did it come already with the wide angle lenses or did you have to add them?

  • 20 Bloody // Sep 18, 2013 at 22:28

    I’ve used an old MSI webcam I had lying around that had interchangeable lenses, the lens supplied with the camera was not wide enough, so I’ve replaced it with a wider angle one.

  • 21 Luke McNeice // Oct 12, 2013 at 12:52

    Source code please! :)

  • 22 Bloody // Oct 15, 2013 at 17:06

    Source code for what, this is not for integrating webcam functionality into your own code, it is just a simple proof of concept that it works and can be quite useful.

  • 23 juancho // Jan 16, 2015 at 03:19

    Dude, how can I connect a webcam to the rift? I connect it but nothing happens, any help will be awesome, thank you.

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