WiiEarthVR at PDC

Update 1/20/09: Here’s a vid from Channel9 showing the WiiEarthVR project:


Time to talk a little bit about my PDC demo…

About a year ago, I wrote an application to control Virtual Earth 3D with the Wiimote named WiiEarth and a corresponding Coding4Fun articleon how it was done.  Since that time VE3D has been updated several times and code changes have broken my application.  Since their API is undocumented and unsupported, it was bound to happen.

For PDC this year, I decided to write a new version of WiiEarth, now named WiiEarthVR, using the Wiimote and some additional hardware, namely the Wii Fit Balance Board and a pair of Vuzix VR920 glasses.  Using the Balance Board, the user can shift their center of gravity (i.e. lean) and control the VE3D environment as if they were on a hovering glider.

Wii Fit Balance Board VR920

The VR920 glasses contain sensors to allow head tracking in 3 degrees of freedom.  A very simple API provides a way to determine the yaw, pitch and roll of the glasses which can be directly used by VE3D.  And finally, the glasses also support stereoscopic 3D imagery.  Simply, this provides a very easy way to give the illusion of true 3D images with depth using the glasses.  By rendering a frame for the left eye and a frame for the right eye, each slightly shifted from the center, your eyes will combine the images together into a single three dimensional image, much like those Magic Eye pictures (It’s a sailboat!).

The final application gives you a very immersive 3D experience using VE3D that can be controlled directly by your own body.  It’s pretty neat to fly around the Las Vegas strip or Manhattan and watch the buildings actually stick out three dimensionally as you lean around the Balance Board.

If you’ll be at PDC2008, stop by the Coding4Fun Lounge to see the application in action, or sit in on our session “Coding4Fun: Windows Presentation Foundation Animation, YouTube, iTunes, Twitter, and Nintendo's Wiimote” to learn how it was made.  After I return home from PDC, I will be writing a Coding4Fun article and releasing the source so you can give it a try at home, assuming you own all of the required hardware…