If you’ve ever wished to see the view from high up above but never had the guts for things like skydiving, then you might now have the next best thing. Oculus FPV is a rather genius project that combines an Oculus Rift VR headset, a DJI Phantom 2 drone, and two cameras to give you an aerial view that is almost as good as the real thing.
Camera modules on drones are certainly not new and almost standard fare, but they have always been marked by one distinct characteristic when it comes to showing live or recorded feeds. You are always seeing things the way a camera sees things, and that is always via a flat plane. A couple of students from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, however, decided to push the boundaries by hooking up a pair of cameras and a VR headset to the drone.
In essence, each of the two cameras delivers a video feed to half of the Oculus Rift’s projectors. This results in a stereoscopic display that lends a more realistic experience compared to simply watching the camera feed on a tablet or computer display. But integration with the Oculus headset is a two-way street. More than just receiving video feeds, the headset can actually control the camera, it’s direction, tilt, and rotation. In short, moving your head around also moves the camera, making it feel all more natural.
The video below demonstrates the setup in action, which, of course, won’t substitute for seeing it first hand while wearing the Oculus Rift yourself. It should be noted that the VR headset only controls the cameras and not the drone itself. The latter still needs to be maneuvered using the usual remote controls, which, given that your regular eyesight is occluded by the headset, might take a bit of skill.
For those who want to replicate the feat, the team who made this possible is also fortunately willing to share their notes. They have made available the source code for the program used to connect the Oculus Rift headset and the cameras, the equipment that they used, as well as an abstract describing the project, all of which you can find in the links below.