A healthy skeptical look at the state and near future of VR from someone who is not…

By | February 16, 2014
A healthy skeptical look at the state and near future of VR from someone who is not an insider  – thus not drinking the VR coolaid nor being affected by the Job's-like reality distortion field.

I am not necessarily agreeing with everything he says, but I think there are quite a few valid points being raised. Good food for thought.


BTW, Jeff Atwood is the co-founder of Stack Overflow.

#vr  #virtualreality   #oculus #oculusrift #rift  
#blog  ?

Coding Horror: The Road to VR
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9 thoughts on “A healthy skeptical look at the state and near future of VR from someone who is not…

  1. derrrick


    Regarding Razer Hydra hacking,

    Can anyone offer any advice on the switch inputs to the LPC1111FD/102 micro controller? (small pcb on joystick/switch housing).

    1)Are the inputs from the 4 switches Analog (3.3v) or Digital ?

    Any help with this would be much appreciated

    kind regards


    1. Jan Post author


      I am not sure what you mean by “analog” or “digital”. A switch can be only “digital” (on/off). The only analog input (potentiometer with continuously changing value) is the trigger at the bottom of the controller, I believe. The entire board uses 3.3V for power, as do most of the current ARM-based microcontrollers.


  2. derrrick

    hi jan,

    thank for you reply, here is the bigger picture, i have desoldered the 4 sw’s form the pcb and would like to substitute them with a bending variable resistor sensor via arduino ….is it possible to them use the analog input pins of the arduino to then be ADC by the arduino then input the 4 individual digit ouputs from the arduino to the relevant digital switch pins of the LPC1111FD/102 micro controller?….i’m unsure of the exact pins (its a 32 pin device) any further advice would really help


  3. Jan Post author


    You cannot simply replace a switch with a potentiometer/variable resistor, that will not work.

    It is likely that the LPC micro has analog inputs as well, but you would have to reprogram it.

    In addition, even if you somehow succeed to feed analog data into the microcontroller, the base of the Hydra does not expect such data. You would have to reprogram the large Blackfin DSP inside as well and change also things like the Hydra drivers – they expect a single bit indicating on/off, not a continuous value (e.g. a byte).

    The most you could do is to add some sort of comparator to your bend sensor and use something like a FET or a transistor to simulate the button presses when the sensor is bent beyond a pre-set threshold. But that will only give you on/off values again.

    Wouldn’t it be much easier to not hack the Hydra controller for something it isn’t meant to do and simply keep your sensors hooked up to your Arduino and just read the data over a serial port or whatever?

    What are you trying to achieve?

  4. derrrick

    i found this pinout from your Razer hydra hack


    on P14 fig 6 (i have tried to id the exact micro but this is a close as i could match..please confirm its correct)…….it shows pins 9,13,14,28 as “General Purpose Digital I/O pins”, would these be the switch inputs to the micro ? if yes are all the switches supplied with Vdd =3.3v then when the sw is made it then supplies 3.3v to the digital input pin ?…any thoughts or do i need to do some further investigations of the circuit, that doc is a BIG one : )!



  5. derrrick

    our posts crossed, here is what i am trying to achieve,

    1) replace the 4 switch pack with a glove type “flex your fingers sensor”to replicate the 4 sw’s action… the glove is more applicable to my project.

    2)Retain the motion control of the hydra, but repackage the hardware (sensing coils and pcb) in a more remote package for the user.

    hope this clear



  6. Jan Post author


    You cannot look only at the data sheet – any of the pins marked as “PIO” can function as a general I/O pin. It all depends on the configuration of the controller in the firmware – the pin assignment and the function assignment of pins on ARM is defined by software for the most part (unlike e.g. on Arduino, where you can at best switch between one or two functions – ARM can have 5-6 alternative functions on most pins!).

    However, all this is not really relevant – you must refer to the actual board and see where the buttons are connected on it, because the firmware is reading only those pins. I don’t know where is what on that board, I haven’t tried to reverse engineer it because I didn’t really need that, apart from the power rail and the serial connection to the base.

    The same with the signalling levels – a switch can be connected as you describe, to bring a pin up to 3.3V. However, a much more common way is to connect a pin to ground, with a pull-up resistor (which may be actually inside the micro and not external). You must check the board traces for this.

    However, as I said before, you *can not* simply connect that bend sensor to this – it will not work and you will most likely ruin your Hydra.

  7. derrrick

    thank you for your advice it makes things much clearer, i will look at the pcb and do some basic continuity testing to see where the buttons go to on the micro. i am going to proceed with caution, as now i know the analog in is not going work, i’ll do some further work and get back to you…many thanks



  8. Jan Post author

    I thought you were trying to do a glove – a more logical thing would be to leave the switches alone and try to replace the potentiometer used for the trigger instead. That is an analog sensor already.

    You may have to do some work to adapt the voltages because it is unlikely the bend sensor has the same resistance as the pot inside the controller, though.


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