ZED AR Coming to Vive and Rift HMDs


Just Plain Mean
Staff member
May 18, 1997
Many of us VR fans have seen the worlds of mixed reality or alternate reality that very expensive products like Microsoft's HoloLens can produce. Stereolabs is telling us that for a mere $450 more, we can turn our Vive or Rift headset into a device that is capable of delivering a real AR experience. ZED Mini is shipping in 3 weeks. This might be something worth looking..uh hmmm...through, should there be any real game support to be found.

Check out the very cool video.

True mixed reality is here. Play games like never before and immerse yourself in a world where the real and virtual merge seamlessly. The ZED mini is the new generation of depth and motion sensing camera. Optimized for mixed-reality and robotics, the ZED mini is two times smaller than the ZED, features visual-inertial technology for improved motion tracking, new Ultra depth sensing mode and modular design for simpler integration.
Interesting, but I'm not really sold on the whole augmented reality at home direction (or Microsoft's lame marketing term of "mixed reality") when it comes to this technology, especially in the area of home gaming. Sure, augmented reality will have its place for use cases like the office and working collaboratively on something like a design model... or even in training scenarios to teach hands-on type things like mechanical repair or surgery for example (it'll be completely AWESOME for these applications.) It'll also be awesome in meetings - sharing slides/information without the need for a projector. But that kind of AR needs something like Google Glass or a really lightweight/portable cable free see through mini-visor and definitely NOT a head encompassing set of goggles that use a pass through camera system. Pass through cameras suck for AR in that they pale in comparison with what we simply see using our own eyes. AR layered over what we see natively works great, but don't overlay AR onto a crappy camera feed with limited FOV, bad color rendition, complete lack of depth focus, etc...

When it comes to gaming, I firmly believe that VR will utterly dominate this domain. I don't want to see my home when I am gaming. I want to be elsewhere, and VR delivers that in spades. In a dungeon, starship, alien world, exotic city, top of a mountain, a battle arena... Yes! In my living room? Ehhhh. Not so much. I do see a really cool use of stereo camera sensing of your environment being used to map into generated VR content such that your real chair, desk, sofa, coffee table, etc. can be incorporated and blended into a given VR scene (perhaps with much more interesting textures/colors to match whatever you happen to be playing). It would also help keep you from running into said objects and instead actually incorporating them where possible as part of whatever you happen to be playing. (Think a virtual D&D table laid over your real coffee table, or your real swivel chair becoming a fully rendered starship captain's chair that turns with you in VR as you turn in the real world.) You'd be able to interact with real room furniture (or its limiting boundaries/surfaces) much better... no more leaning on a VR table and falling over, but leaning on a VR table that happens to correspond with a real world counterpart. And it wouldn't have to be limited to just those objects necessarily. Your real room objects could be incorporated as rocks, trees, whatever so that you don't fall over them. If your dog or cat happens to wander into your VR play area, he/she becomes this big fat glowing red hairy rat so you know that they are underfoot. (Ok, far fetched, but possible with a properly enhanced guardian system using stereo HMD incorporated cameras to account for such possibilities.) But this all would still be a somewhat limited use case and would only work for certain kinds of VR environments/games.

Another big heartburn I have with this Stereolabs offering is that it will cost more than the VR system itself. $450 is a solid $50 more than the Rift + Touch system now. That's a lot of coin to toss just for the addition of AR via camera pass through, and like I've stated earlier, I don't really see gaming as the primary target application area for AR's use, unless you really have a hard-on for shooting zombies, robots, monsters, etc. as they try and join you in your living room... but that novelty would begin to dry up and grow stale rather quickly. What AR really needs to shine is an effective, lightweight, unobtrusive delivery system - one that is completely separate from VR. And I just don't see it merging/blending with VR, but rather becoming an entirely separate offering from VR with its own purpose... which doesn't happen to primarily be gaming. Just my thoughts... curious as to what everyone else is thinking with regards to this tech.
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I need this technology to render a smokin' hot chick in place of my hand..... for research purposes.
It also needs to have a "wife in proximity" alert.

If it were like Swort Art Online: Ordinal Scale, that would be cool. Where the surroundings get made into a virtual world you play in. Although, in that anime, the AR devices links to your brain. So it's not a screen sitting in front of your face to overlay the data. It directly pumps it into your brain to get it to display instead.

If it were like Swort Art Online: Ordinal Scale, that would be cool. Where the surroundings get made into a virtual world you play in. Although, in that anime, the AR devices links to your brain. So it's not a screen sitting in front of your face to overlay the data. It directly pumps it into your brain to get it to display instead.

Those who enjoy both fantasy, games, and sci-fi should definitely take a look at Sword Art Online, even if not normally a fan of anime. It poses some very real questions about virtual worlds, technology and of course human relationships in response. From a technology point of view, SAO is built around a nearish-future where players use a brain-computer interface so they have true "presence" in the gameworld, though there are still some "gamified" elements superimposed like health bars and whatnot. I don't want to give things away too much but there's a noteworthy attention to detail (and the progression of technology) where at one point characters remark that "virtual food" all tastes the same (yet has differing stats and whatnot, while looking different, MMO style) until both in-game skill and a software update of sorts writes in proper "taste" for immersion. Its really the kind of show that anyone who's the least bit interested in fantasy, sci-fi/tech can enjoy while still being enough focus on relationships and whatnot for those less geeky to find interesting. As a side note, the SAO style "in-game UI" is a fantastic example of Japanese UI design and it is freely replicated in custom MMO UI mods and other games/desktop environments, even studied in university UI design classes I've been told. There's much more to discuss but I can't do it without spoilers!

For those not familiar with anime in general, SAO has 2 "Core" TV series that are a few years old now - "Sword Art Online" released in 2012 with 25 episodes + 1 bonus Extra Edition episode sequentially after, and then "Sword Art Online II" in 2014 w/ 24 episodes. Fast forward to 2017 and "Sword Art Online The Movie - Ordinal Scale" came out as kroch linked above, which takes place after the first two TV series. A month or two back, a 3rd full TV series has been announced as well as a spinoff series too; I think at least one of these will come in 2018? All existing episodes these are available online fansubbed if you know where you look, but you can also watch both TV series on Crunchyroll or VRV. Well worth a look!
I have ZERO interest in "AR" until they look like normal eyeglasses and can display useful information as I go about my day. THIS is exciting. Playing a game like they are showing is NOT. I prefer gaming experiences to NOT include the real world. I want to be transported INTO the game...and not have to look at my cluttered and small living room while I play.
i like the idea of this for pay-to-play style environments, such as laser tag arenas. imagine the new level of depth possible with position tracking & a premapped understanding of the environment? ie: an alien pokes his head around a corner. or to be more applicable and realistic, LEO/SWAT training could be done on the fly, without the use of ammo, and even solo. could train infinitely on hostage situations, tactics, etc.

so while i think there's applications for it, just seeing shit standing around in the piles of crap in your office is hardly the most exciting thing ive ever heard of. plus there's no real way it could understand depth, etc, so it'd seem pretty artificial. for home design, home makeover, changing the color of your car, testing paint ideas, remote learning.. oh 500% hell yes.

for gaming: only for arenas.