The BBC R&D department are working on a head mounted system capable of projecting immersive 3D worlds.
The Holohelmet project combines head tracking with one or more portable pico-projectors. Unlike virtual reality HMDs of the past, which enclose the viewer within a closed environment, the BBC are taking a different approach by projecting the image to a wall in front of the user, allowing for multi-person viewing.
On the prototype, a webcam is positioned on the headwear which faces up to a ceiling rigged with several infrared LED markers. The webcam detects the position of the markers as the user moves his or her head and the tracking software translates this data into accurate position and head orientation referencing.
A 3D scene (please note, this is not a stereoscopic 3D scene) is then rendered and projected from the user’s pico-projector (also mounted on the headwear) onto a special retro-reflective screen via an angled mirror (as pictured). The special material means that the image is only viewable from a narrow angle so other people can see their own individual perspective on the same screen. They are free to move around and look around a scene from different angles.
The BBC say “We are currently investigating what kind of media or scenes are best suited for the device and we develop new ways of interacting with the scene, including bi-directional interactions through depth sensing of the user.”
It would be interesting if the BBC investigated how the technology could project S3D images to the user. Maybe if the viewing angle could be restricted enough, two pico-projectors could provide left and right images for auto-stereo 3D projection.
Sony are also investigating head tracking technology to enhance 3D gaming. Using the PlayStation Eye to monitor the position of a gamer’s head, the 3D image changes perspective as the person moves his or her head, providing a 'look around' illusion.
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