• Making Constellation more Convenient.

    An infrared LED array on the headset and an IR sensitive camera was undoubtedly the most obvious solution for positional HMD tracking when Oculus began developing the Rift. However, the Constellation tracking system does not extend well to standing or room-scale experiences. I propose a modification to the Constellation system that would make the use of multiple Constellation cameras much more convenient, while remaining compatible with current Rift and Touch hardware.

  • How many basketballs will fit in this room?

    I was asked this question in a job interview recently: “How many basketballs will fit in this room?” As it turns out, this is quite a common interview question, designed to gauge a candidate’s problem solving skills and ability to think on their feet and handle unexpected challenges. It also turns out that a lot of mathematicians have thought about problems like this, and in fact developed an entire field based around generalisations of this question, which they call ‘sphere packing’. We’ll explore the field of sphere packing and use it to solve the problem in the interview question.

  • EQ10Q for System Wide Parametric EQ on Linux

    I’ve been using Peace on Windows for a while. It’s a system wide equaliser with peak, shelf, and low/high-pass filters, all with configurable frequency and bandwidth. Now, I’ve finally found something that offers the same functionality on Linux: EQ10Q. EQ10Q isn’t an all-in-one solution like Peace, though. It’s designed as a plug-in for audio workstations such as Ardour. But combined with a standalone LV2 plug-in host (Jalv.GTK) and JACK, it can be used as a system-wide equaliser. So here’s how…

  • A Bold Vision for UWA's EZONE

    There is a problem at UWA. There is a distinct disconnect between students, research, and industry. Research and innovation initiatives like [email protected], UWA Makers, and CEEDUWA are flying under the radar, invisible to students. Industry interaction with students and researchers is minimal, and companies are saying that industry-relevant education is starting far too late in our degrees. At the UWA “Game of EZONEs” 12-hour Innovation and Design Challenge, our team proposed a bold vision that would see the upcoming EZONE building, the new hub for engineering, computing, and mathematics at UWA, utilised to solve this problem. We won first place for our efforts.

  • How to Audition Audio Equipment

    Whether you’re fed up with the earbuds that came with your phone and just want to dip your feet into enthusiast audio or you’ve finally stuffed your Fostex T50RP with enough plasticine, craft felt, and toothpicks to get it sounding just right and now it’s time to get some high end IEMs to match, you should always try before you buy, because your ears are unique, and your music taste is unique. After working in a headphone store, I can confidently say that 99% of people do this the wrong way. So here’s the right way…

  • Depth Cameras and Inside-out Tracking for HMDs

    Head Mounted Displays without positional tracking just aren’t that great. The lack of positional tracking was one of the main pain points of the original Oculus Rift development kit. Omitting positional tracking from an HMD not only dramatically reduces immersion, but can result in increased risk of motion sickness. But positional tracking without sensor drift presently requires external systems such as Valve’s Lighthouses and Oculus’ Constellation sensing IR cameras. This means that self-contained headsets such as Samsung’s GearVR can only offer directional tracking: They know which way the headset is pointing, but not its position in space. Could HMD mounted depth sensing cameras solve this problem with their inside-out approach to positional tracking?

  • Where should PSVR position itself for success?

    PSVR is the upcoming virtual reality system from Sony, designed for use with the PS4. With the PS4 around $500AU, and the headset launching at $549AU, PSVR looks to be much cheaper than a Rift or Vive and accompanying PC. Even once you add the PlayStation camera required to track the headset (not included in the PSVR package), and the Move motion controllers which you’ll probably want for a more immersive experience (not included either), PSVR is still much cheaper than a Rift/Vive and accompanying computer. It’s also worth noting that while a PCs meeting the minimum spec for the Rift/Vive are rare outside of hardcore PC gaming households, PS4s are already in plenty of average consumer homes. PSVR also has at least 18 games ready for launch day, and at least 50 releasing before the end of the year. So with a huge content library and an impressively low price, does PSVR have everything it needs to succeed? I don’t think so…

  • My Impressions of the Rift and Vive

    Having tried both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, I’d like to compare my experiences with each and discuss the state of consumer VR, speculating on where second generation devices might be headed.

  • Explain it like I'm Five: Gerrymandering

    Gerrymandering is an issue that gets a lot of attention in the US, but what exactly is it, how does it influence the result of elections, and is it happening in Australia?

  • Follow-up: Don't Waste Your Vote

    Now that the dust has (mostly) settled, it’s time for some analysis. Just before the election I published a post discouraging people from voting informally. Now that the results are pretty much finalised, I’d like to demonstrate what could have happened if the informal lower house votes from this election had instead been cast formally.

  • Please Don't Waste Your Vote

    Donkey voting in protest of the current political climate is like being handed a megaphone and using it to whine about how nobody can hear you.

  • Display Persistence, or "But the box said it has a 1 millisecond response time!"

    Many people believe that motion blur in LCD displays is due to the fact that liquid crystal pixels take a relatively long time to change colour. In fact, response times have very little to do with blur levels. With the right backlight strobing techniques, a 120Hz LCD display with a response time of 8ms is entirely indistinguishable from one with a response time of 1ms. The barrier separating traditional LCD and AMOLED displays from the motion clarity of CRTs and PMOLED displays is persistence, not response time.

  • ...In Which I Obsess Over a Keyboard

    I wanted a new keyboard. More than that, I wanted it to be the last keyboard I would ever buy. If I’m being honest, I also wanted it to be flashy, something I could show off.

  • Compensating for Lens Distortion in VR Headsets

    The lenses in Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) apply pincushion distortion to the image displayed. When we display images on an HMD, we must ensure the images are barrel distorted. The barrel distortion is cancelled perfectly by the pincushion distortion of the lenses, and we see an undistorted image. There are numerous ways to achieve barrel distortion, each finding a different balance between performance and image quality.

  • Spatial Audio 101

    When we hear a sound, we instantly know where it’s coming from. This is because the sound interacts with our body as it travels to our ears. It bounces off, propagates through, diffracts around and is absorbed by various body parts, such as the head, torso, and the intricate structures of the outer ear. These interactions change the sound that arrives at our ears, adding important information known as binaural cues. Our brain can pick out these cues, and based on which ones are present, it can determine the direction that the sound must have come from.