MuVIT VR Essentials

For the last year or so, we have been experimenting with a VR (virtual reality) version of MuVIT. We have had some people express interest in VR capabilities so I’m going to start releasing the information on how to implement that functionality. I have to add the qualifier though that this is still a work in progress and subject to change, no guarantees but you should be able to make it work.

The first thing you need to know is that this just like the rest of the MuVIT platform is designed to be cost effective. The headset to provide the actual 3D environment is essentially a holder for your mobile phone which provides the visual component. you can use most any mobile but we will discuss that later in more detail. Additionally you will need a high bandwidth connection to the phone, bluetooth won’t cut it. You can use a USB tether, but who want’s the limitations that wires impose. For that reason we use an 802.11 ac hot spot repeater which provides bandwidth equivalent to the ethernet port on you computer which our case is 100 Mb, more than enough. Then of course you need both the simulator software mentioned else where on the site and the additional software that created the 3D interface from the 2D screen image. We will discuss each item sepereatley below.

The VR components

The first thing to understand is that the whole virtual reality environment is done on a smart phone running an app that sits as middleware between the simulator display and the phone. This software splits the screen into 2 images to give a stereoscopic depth perception effect. This can be disorienting to some and has been know to cause motion sickness.

Stereoscopic view of cockpit

Having said that you have been warned and we can proceed. The first consideration is the phone you plan to use. If your phone is fairly modern it should work fine. I have tested on Iphones which worked well as well as a couple of Androids. Currently we are using an LG G5 Android, that was purchased off Amazon for under $150 and no plan is attached, it is a standalone device used for the simulator, but that is entirely up to you as to what phone to use and what if any plan, just be sure it has a gyroscope or other motion sensing so you can move your head and have the image track.

Next you need a way to hold the phone in front of your eyes properly. You can build or buy a cardboard cutout and hold it in place by hand but how would that work in class or at a boat show??? So we suggest an appropriate mounting system such as those shown below. They maintain a dark environment, are comfortable and have a large adjustment range for focus as well as width which are both important to viewing comfort. These will both hold an iphone 6+. These seem to have a high turnover rate so these may no longer be available but it is more a matter of compatibility than an exact model, pick one that will work for your phone. Some have headphones built in or other features, You choose but remember these are not Oculous, Vive or other VR rigs, these are using your phone, not expensive task oriented equipment. If unsure you can contact me.

One thing we discovered early on is that if you wear glasses this can present difficulties. In my case where I can see clearly up close I had no problem, my wife who has the opposite problem could not get a good focus without wearing her glasses. If you anticipate having to support wearing glasses then look at the larger units and hope for smaller glasses. Like many things, you may have to make some trade offs. Also make sure that the headset supports being able to adjust Pupillary distance (PD) or interpupillary distance (IPD). This is the distance measured in millimeters between the centers of the pupils of the eyes. This is critical to comfort and best viewing experience. The headsets displayed have small dials which allow for focus and IPD adjustments.

Hairnet for sanitary headset sharing
We recommend a hairnet for sanitary sharing of the headset
Mask for sanitary headset sharing
We recommend a mask such as this for sanitary headset sharing

The Network

The network is a critical component for this to work properly. Because what you are transferring between the PC and your phone as display is the video feed it require a fair amount of bandwidth. We have found that the best candidate is an 802.11ac wireless network with a bandwidth of 1.3 gigabits per second (Gbps) which is almost 3 times the rated bandwidth of 802.11n at 450Mbit per second (0.45Gbps). 

TP Link 802.11ac wireless repeater
TP-Link | AC750

We found that the TP Link AC750 worked well to provide the wireless connection. While you could do the network over USB with a tether, ypu know someone is going to run off the end of that at some point and damage something, why take chances.

This unit plugs into 110 VAC power and has an RJ45 ethernet connection. plug the ethernet into your computer network connection, switch, whatever you use to configure it per the included instructions. Be sure to remember your SSID and password for later, you’ll need it to connect. Also we recommend you make this unit it’s own device, don’t share it into other networks who may consume that critical bandwidth. While it may sound complicated, it is pretty straight forward and the link handles most of the configuration itself with its defaults. You probably shouldn’t mess with them unless you know what you are doing. Worst case, restore to factory settings and try again.

The Software

This is the part that make it work, you can workaround other parts but without this you headset is just cold dead hardware, or at best a phone…

Trinus logo
Trinus Cardboard VR

You can download the Trinus software from the link, the free version allows 10 minutes at a time of use, the full version which last time I bought it was ~ $10 allows unlimited usage. It is a bit complicated to setup with a lot of options. Out of the box it should work  but remember what I said about you wireless SSID, this is where it comes into play. You will need that and the password fot the TP Linl wireless connection. That is your tether to deliver the VR experience to your headset.

First be aware that Trinus has a pretty good support community and they offer these guidelines to get you started.

The link on the left will get you the server software for you PC which is what will send the image to your headset. Then you need the client side to go on your phone. You can get that by going to your appropriate app store and downloading the current version. Then you will need to do some configuration work, we will address that next.

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