Using the Oculus Rift and DJI Phantom 2 allows for a true 3D FPV experience like no other, but how is 3D FPV possible now, and where is it going in the future.
The Oculus Rift is a device that essentially lets you experience Full 3D emersion in another environment. It does this by putting a big screen right up to your head and displaying 2 separate images into each eye. It also has gyros and accelerometers (just like a quadcopter) to keep track of what orientation your head is in.
Right now, in order to do normal FPV you need a camera, video transmitter, video receiver and a viewing device such as a screen or goggles. It’s a pretty simple setup.
How to Use The Rift For 3D FPV
Using the Oculus Rift for FPV is a little different. Right now, there are 2 ways of doing it.
You will need 2 separate cameras, 2 video transmitters, 2 video receivers, 2 RCA to USB video capture devices and a laptop to get the video from the capture devices to the Oculus Rift. This is the first and hardest way to do it.
Another way which is much easier but still a hassle, is to use the Transporter3D, a device made specifically for doing FPV with the Oculus Rift. You’ll still need 2 cameras, 2 video transmitters and 2 receivers, but you will no longer need 2 capture cards and a laptop. The Transporter3D takes the analog video signals from both receivers and converts them into a digital HD output specifically for the Oculus Rift. It also takes the accelerometer data from the Oculus Rift and converts it into a PPM signal. The PPM signal output can then plug into your RC radio so you can control pan and tilt servos. This will allow you to move your head and look around, as if you were actually inside the drone. You can get the Transporter3D for about $700 here.
The down side for both of these solutions is the video quality. Right now, we’re essentially taking standard definition analog video and scaling it up to 720p, then rapping that image around your head. It’s like going to a 1980s 3D movie theater and sitting 5 feet from the screen. I personally wouldn’t want to spend over $1200 in equipment (not including whatever drone you use) just to view SD video that will probably make you motion sick, but it’s still a really cool idea, and I can’t wait for this kind of technology to improve.
The Future of FPV
Some time in the near future (maybe 2 to 5 years from now) someone will come out with a 3D solution that’s almost like mixing the Transporter3D and a DJI Lightbridge together. It will be able to do live full HD 3D video streaming while also handling the control signal for controlling the drone. It will also have telemetry data just like the light bridge. Combining this with a 1080p production model of the oculus rift (or any other VR headset that comes out) would really make for a true out-of-body experience.
Real World Use
Here’s an example of someone doing 3D FPV with the Oculus Rift and a DJI Phantom using the first method I described. You can find more info on how he did it here.
Cross Eyed 3D Video
Here’s a better quality video taken with 2 GoPro cameras. This is what live 3D FPV video streaming might look like in the next few years (hopefully).
Side note: If you cross your eyes, you can actually view this video in real 3D. You can learn how here. Just make sure you don’t cross your eyes for an extended period of time (like over a minute) or you could hurt your eyes.