In the 1990s Virtual Reality headsets were big and bulky. Powered by Commodore Amiga 3000s, "Virtuality" headsets contained just the tech to see the virtual world, the processing power was housed in a pod beneath your feet. But what if the Raspberry Pi was around in the 1990s? This idea was realised by Freelance CGI artist Moonshake3D who created a fully rendered 64-bit VR gaming system "Moonshake Stereoscopic Display System" powered by our favorite single board computer.
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So lets get this out of the way. The Moonshake Stereoscopic Display System renders are gorgeous, they look almost too good to be true. The mix of materials, plywood, leather and acrylic sells the latter 20th century aesthetic. We would wear one in a heartbeat. The tech side of things sees two virtual Raspberry Pi cameras. Not the latest Camera Module 3, instead the render shows two Camera Module 2 units running as a stereoscopic display system. Two official Raspberry Pi cameras connected to one Raspberry Pi? Well a normal Raspberry Pi can only have one camera, so this rendered product must be running a Compute Module unit. Compute Module IO boards have multiple camera connections, and libcamera can be instructed to individually control each camera. The typical Compute Module IO Board is rather large, largely due to its dev kit role. Developers are expected to use the IO board to develop their own Compute Module powered boards. In the render we can see something of a virtual circuit board. To the left looks to be a microSD card slot, to the right are some silver ports which could be USB. The electronics on the front of the unit are exposed to the elements, great for us to gaze upon their beauty, but bad for protection. Luckily this is just a render and not a real product.
The headset is rendered with a general plywood construction, and that extends to where the user's face meets the unit. There is no padding for the face of our virtual gamer, but their head will be cushioned thanks to a pad on the back of the unit. The plywood on the bridge of the nose will be uncomfortable, but the texture used in the render is sublime and looks genuine. The Wi-Fi antenna sticking out of the unit means that the Compute Module 4 has Wi-Fi, and reminds us so much of 90s Sci-Fi TV shows.
This may not be a real product, but the care and attention poured into the render is evident and makes us reach for Blender to try our hand. If it ever becomes real, our cash is waiting for the call.
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Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".
I first experienced VR in the mid 90's in an arcade on holiday in Florida, I guess from this article that it could have been Amiga powered. As a 'miggy-freak (I still have an A500, A600 and A1200) I'm very suprised I didn't know that.Reply
It always makes me smile whenever I hear 'this is the year of VR' - been a looooong time coming!
What kind of display would it have used? LCD still wasn't super-common in the 90s, and what was around had really slow refresh rates. Which would make you start blowing chunk after only a few seconds of using it. Dual CRT displays would probably rip your head off without some kind of tether to support it!Reply
VR headset seems to be heavy and uncomfortableReply
It's really amazing how VR captured so much attention, back in the early/mid 90's, considering how we barely had the tech to do interactive 3D graphics to begin with.kyzarvs said:I first experienced VR in the mid 90's in an arcade on holiday in Florida, I guess from this article that it could have been Amiga powered. As a 'miggy-freak (I still have an A500, A600 and A1200) I'm very suprised I didn't know that.
BTW, Nintendo's codename for the N64 was "Project Reality" and the SGI-designed GPU was called the "Reality Coprocessor". I don't know if Nintendo ever got far enough to actually experiment with headsets for it, but then we got Virtual Boy:
Yeah, I was surprised when I first heard about the Oculus Rift. It was like "oh, yeah... I guess it is time for another VR hype bubble, I guess."kyzarvs said:It always makes me smile whenever I hear 'this is the year of VR' - been a looooong time coming!
Each time VR comes back, it's better than the last time. Eventually, I do think it'll gain some real mainstream traction.
Would've probably had to be CRT. That's a good point, as the render obviously doesn't leave room for them.fireaza said:What kind of display would it have used? ... Dual CRT displays would probably rip your head off without some kind of tether to support it!
There actually were HMDs, back in the 90's. I'm pretty sure they were CRT, and they didn't rip anyone's head off. I guess CRTs scale down pretty well.
The Virtual Boy used a very interesting technique, involving a 1D strip of LEDs and an oscillating mirror:
"The display consists of two 2-bit (four shade) monochrome red screens of 384×224 pixels and a frame rate of approximately 50.27 Hz. It uses an oscillating mirror to transform a single column of 224 red LEDs into a full field of pixels. Nintendo claimed that a color display would have made "jumpy" images and have been too expensive. A color display would have required red, green, and blue LEDs; blue LEDs were then considerably expensive."