V-Rtifacts

Tag Archive: VR-4

Vintage VR-4 Head Mounted Display Teardown

Here’s a much more detailed tear down of the Virtual Research VR-4 Head Mounted Display, done by one of the engineers at VR sometime in 1994. He shows us how to remove the back light inverter and the main PCB.

‘Scuse the vintage VHS EP mode recording. I was trying to save on video tape costs; a 6 hour tape cost $1.50!

It’s All In Between The Eyes

If you look yourself in the eyes, you’ll start to realize that your eyes and your head are different than anyone else’s. The spacing between your eyes, known as the interpupilary distance is about 65mm, but this varies from 50mm to about 75mm, depending on who’s eyes you’re looking through. Also the position of your eyes, relative to the shape of your head is unique; some people have eyes that are more inset, or perhaps bulging outward.

The designers of VR helmets have to deal with all this variation in the human phenome. Everyone has a sweet spot where the two lenses of a VR helmet are perfectly aligned with their eyes. Similarly, each of us want the lenses to be positioned as close as possible to our eyes (to achieve wide field of view), without discomfort. If you wear eyeglasses, you need to have room to fit your glasses between your eyes and the lenses.

So… let’s look at how one helmet design deals with these issues:

Siggraph ’95 – Upon Further Observation

Who can remember doing all their 3D animation in MS-DOS? Back in the day, there was Gary Yost’s 3D-Studio (not Max!) licensed to and supported by AutoDesk. Now, who remembers creating stereoscopic animation with 3D Studio? VREX had a great little plugin that setup linked stereo cameras and let you render twice, once for left and again for right. Much fun on a 386!

In sorting through a carton of old BetaCam-SP tapes from the mid ’90s, I came across a non-so-cute animation I produced with the ever imaginative (and twisted) Steve Speer for Siggraph ’95. “UFO” (Upon Further Observation) defies categorization… so get out your red/cyan glasses and watch out for the a**l probe!

At Siggraph, UFO was shown in a bank of a dozen Virtual Research VR-4 helmets with shaker seats.

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And for those of you nostalgic for the days of animating in MS-DOS….

Tearing Out the Guts of a Virtual Research VR-4 Helmet

Last week I shredded a Liquid Image MRG2.2. This week we go for the classic Virtual Research VR-4 stereoscopic head mounted display. There’s a lot to love about the VR-4: wide field of view optics, adjustable interpupilary distance, coated aspheric lenses, excellent fit to different heads, and provision for eyeglasses. The optics are timeless; used again in the V6, V8, and 15 years later in today’s Virtual Research VR-1280.

All these HMDs rely on 1.3″ displays… so the challenge is out: to find improved LCDs to drop into the classic VR-4, although the resolution of the original displays isn’t half bad.

So… in two parts… have a look inside the VR-4.


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