We got inspired on assistive tech, since this technology can help with making one's lifestyle more free and easy. The applications of this device can be of assistive nature but can also be for research or other purposes that require remote interaction.
What it does
The Backpack Arms Project is divided into two systems. The Remote VR System and the local arm system. The remote system receives the livestream from a web server and then shows it in the Oculus Rift.
The Arm System is composed of an Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Airport Express, Camera and Xbox Controller. It's a complex system but the components play nicely with each other. The Airport Express connects to a WiFi network and bridges the connection to ethernet (since the Pi's own WiFi adapter is slow). The Pi then streams over the web to the VR, then you can control the arms with an Xbox controller.
How we built it
We divided our team in two, the programming team and the hardware team. The hardware team specialized in the arm and movement of it. The programming team handled the comms and the VR Streaming.
Challenges I ran into
During this project we ran into many different challenges, like streaming live Raspberry Pi video to an Oculus Rift VR headset with negligible latency, also we wanted to get the head location from the VR Headset so we could adjust the camera's position as the person with the rig moved. There also was the challenge of sending a lot of data without having many computers or receiving Arduinos connected at the same time, while also not saturating the Arduino's queue.
Accomplishments that we are proud of
We are very proud of what we achieved in 24 hours. We were able to start from scratch and end with a very useful prototype that is functional and works.
What we learned
We learned a lot of things, we learned about WiFi, the Internet, and livestreaming to an Oculus Rift VR Headset. We also learned about servo configurations and movement.
What's next for BackpackArms
The future for backpack arms is very promising. There are many things that can be done to increase its precision and its dexterity. This can go a very long way with the project, and its use case scenarios are basically unlimited, from medical to research applications.