Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Head Tracking Unit with FreeTrack

TrackIR 4 Pro camera

Ever heard TrackIR??? I bet none of us have ever heard that except for those who are very concern about their gaming experience. Well, the story goes like this. Some hardcore gamers find out their control of perspective (using mouse for First Person Shooter, or Joystick's Point-Of-View Hat for Flight Sim, or buttons for racing sim) is not enough to cope with their needs of awareness sensitivity and sometimes information overloading start to burden these pilots. They need something that can upgrade their situational awareness so that they are aware of what happening around them (to check his 6 o'clock for bandits let's say).

Then, TrackIR comes with the solution manufactured a head tracking device. This device will track your head movement and they will simulate the movement into the game's perspective. TrackIR is using a specially developed camera to detect either the reflection of infrared from another source or the infrared beam itself. The reflector or the source of infrared often put into a baseball cap. This solution is great giving a player the luxury of natural head movement in looking around, but the solution is expensive. Especially for us Malaysian that will needs to order the device right from US.

However, another alternative solution is available right in the net. FreeTrack is a program that will provide you the ability to track your head movement as in TrackIR however it is not an expensive solution. The program is available totally for free. The only thing you need to spend is the hardware for the program to detect your head movement.

My 1 point cap configuration circuit

I've been experimenting with this tonight and what I say it is brilliant and nothing less compared to TrackIR (from the vids that I've saw saying they're using TrackIR). The head movement is quite natural if you can calibrate it perfectly. I'll upload a video of the demo later. Let's talk about the hardware of the head tracking device first.

What we need is LEDs, resistors, wire, and battery. Of course to assemble a circuit you gonna need soldering iron. The amount of LEDs and resistors needed depends on the configuration. FreeTrack supported 4 types of configs, 1 point cap mount, 3 point clip mount, 3 point cap mount, 4 point cap mount. 1 point cap configuration will give you 2DOF, that is up-down and left-right. With 3 point clip, 3 point cap and 4 point cap you can get 6DOF those are up-down, left-right, roll, x plane movement, y plane movement and z plane movement. However, 4 point cap is a little hard to assemble so I tried to assemble a 3 point cap mount as it is not ideal to create a clip for that. However, after few test I found that 3 point cap configuration is a little bit hard to calibrate as 1 tracking point usually will be out of sight after few degree turn. So, I then change my plan to 1 point cap configuration.

My prototype of head tracking device

FreeTrack do recommend to use infrared LEDs, however a simple visible red light LEDs is good enough for tracking purpose.

Another important hardware is a webcam. A normal regular webcam is good enough. You can get them in computer store cheaply. Not even for hundred bucks. Logitech's webcam is good but you can save the money if you are playing on your laptop with a built-in webcam.

Total cost for hardware will depends on your configuration and without the battery, it won't reach RM10. Plus webcam, it should not be more than RM90. I bet, this could be done only within RM50 budget.

As for the software part, you can download it from FreeTrack Website and a little config is needed. First you need to set various settings of your camera like brightness, contrast all to zero. And when you push the button start in the software interface you'll adjust the threshold until you can only see one tracking dot(s) marked with a cross. Then, you can adjust the sensitivity.

The interface of FreeTrack, notice one white dot in the blackbox, that's the tracking dot detected by the camera

I tested my 2DOF 1 point cap with Falcon 4.0: Allied Force (a really complicated flight sim) and it comes out great. I can check my six faster than before and never actually lost track of a bandit with its radar locking on my six. I even managed to figure out what to do (which I never did before due to info overload, again this is a very complicated flight sim that would take months to master with 800 pages of manual) and bring down that MiG-29 to its doom. However, I still need a few more practice with this device until I came to master the control. Well, with only few minutes of practice I can actually figure out to make the bandit overshoot and bring him down with my AIM-9L, it's very good. Before this I can't even shake them off. Haha....

So, instead of spending USD99.90 or RM359.40 (and that is without tax and import duty) it is really worth it to spend half an hour making this and spend another RM50 for a webcam.

p to the s: a review on the Falcon 4.0: Allied Force is coming soon. Wait for it. Like I said, it would take months of training to dogfight in this game effectively. It's pretty much like flying the real F16 out there without the hard 7G giving you GLOC.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Another vid from Infinity Challenge, Future Liger (MC Yoo and TJK)

I dont know what song they parodied this time but I think this could be an original. Parody of Lollipop MV is in here... LOL... cant help...

Credit to CJWTown

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Apple iPhone... Is it really worth it???

It seems to be that recently, Apple iPhone is one of the latest hit gadgets in the world. Everyone wants to own an iPhone. It have become part of the world's latest lifestyle. But it only come exclusively with carrier packaged subscription. Luckily for us Malaysian, we now can have a taste and feel the luxury of iPhone brought by Maxis with their own iPhone package subscription. The big question is, is it worth it????

I don't really want to touch the rate that Maxis brings in for the iPhone subscription, but the RRP (Recommended Retail Price) as stated by Maxis and the price tag used by them to sell the iPhones without the discounts that come with the subscription to their Hotlink prepaid customers. The RRP for iPhone 3G 8GB currently offered by Maxis is RM1990 while iPhone 3GS 16GB is RM2490 and iPhone 3GS 32GB is RM2990.

But, if we check the details given by Apple, the RRP for iPhone 3G 8GB currently is at USD99 which means ~RM350 (given the current rate at the time of writing as in the knowledge of the author is USD1 = RM3.60) and as for the iPhone 3GS 16GB is USD199 or ~RM716.

So, comparing to what Maxis offered us is ~6 times the original price quoted by Apple for iPhone 3G and ~4 times the original price of iPhone 3GS... What happen? What makes the price gone crazy like that? Is it the tax? Is it the import duty?

If it is the import duty, why Nokia could sell their Tube (5800XM) at ~RM1.5k while being USD350, way more expensive compared to iPhone 3GS... Or is it because iPhone is 100% imported and Tube is assembled in Malaysia??? I dont really know about that.

But, as far as the ridiculousnous goes for Maxis' pricetag on iPhone I would say stay away from a phone that is so sophisticated yet can't use MMS service until recently.... Because for me, it is totally not worth it to pay RM2.5k but can't even use a simple basic features like MMS (again, until recently) and until the reason why the price tag difference is too much by Maxis is revealed, I think it might be a good reason not to buy an iPhone.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Shower at nite = Pneumonia?????

First of all... *blow* *wipe* *sweep*...*cough cough*...

okay now... more than one week... hehehehe...

for now, another controversial theory from our ancestor... You go take shower or bath at nite, you'll catch pneumonia (paru2 berair... bukak wiki kalo xtau....) for sure... if not now, there'll be the old time... hmmm... I'd like to catch your attention... Some say that you get pneumonia from the cold ambient and water temperature when you shower... anologous to an iced water in a glass, condensation occur, vapour in the air becomes water on the glass surface.... while the lungs is hotter containing hotter air than ambient temperature making the vapour in the air condensate and water droplets formed in the lungs.

there's one article saying that most of pneumonia patient have one favourite sport activity that usually played at night, it's Badminton (really, it's bad for your health than.. it's already said BADminton) since they usually played at night, after the game before they go to sleep they usually take a shower... same as most athlete in this case... most athlete will have night training session so before sleep they usually take shower... I was once an athlete, once a sport team manager, i know my players' activities and my activity...

So, is it true that you'll catch pneumonia if you take shower at nite???? some says doctors dont recommend it and some says doctors said it's ok... which one we want to believe??? is it a myth? or is it true???

let's see, what is PNEUMONIA actually... From Wikipedia (yeah, I know wikipedia is not 100% accurate and yadda yadda yadda, present another article from another reliable source then...) on Pneumonia, Pneumonia is an inflamotary illness of lungs and often described as lung parenchyma or alveolar inflammation and abnormal alveolar filling with fluids... The cause of pneumonia are virus, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and another one is idiopathic where the cause is unknown (no wonder it sounds like idiot, it trully is)

So, there's no statement saying definitively that taking shower late at nite will cause pneumonia... maybe it can go under idiopathic, but since the doctors and the experts can't even determine it thus the name of idiopathic we can't definitely says taking shower late at nite is one of the cause of pneumonia...

It is however, based on article from Google... it seems to be true that a badminton player will catch pneumonia... Allahyarham Datuk Sidek is said from few articles having combo of pneumonia, diabetes, hypertensions and the ultimate is the kidney failure. Is it true that the pneumonia he's having is caused by taking shower late at nite after training his kids or just simply because of it is BADminton??? haha... just kidding... dont be mad... what i'm saying here is, is it definitely the late nite shower or is it because of something else seeing he got a cocktail... I've tried to find another article saying an athlete having pneumonia but so far, we haven't heard Misbun, Jailani, Rashid, Razif, Beckham, Datuk Lee Chong Wei, and other famous athletes catched pneumonia... I dont know, my be it's just me.... If you got some articles, let me know... however, what i'm thinking here is, the pneumonia is actually not from shower late at nite but simply because the way the shower is taken here is not really correct. Or it can also be other reasons from staying out late at nite.

One of the tips taking shower or bath is, you wet your body from down below and come up to your head. This way your body would've take the least shock from temperature change. Also, it would be bad if you taking shower straight away with your body all sweaty... you should let the sweat dry first before step into the shower... So, what's the verdict here???

But then, the anology of iced water in a glass... it does make sense isn't it??? well, then it could be simply solved by taking shower with warm water. How's about that??? Oooo crap... it's the ambient temperature is too low... But then, warm water??? it should reduce the effect compared to cold water right???

I've read one article about shower late at nite in Utusan Malaysia in Kesihatan pull out... The doctor they interviewed says that it's ok to take shower late at nite... He even recommended few ways to take shower... It is recommended to take shower maximum 20min. But depends on the individuals, it can be reduced if the individu has illness related to coldness (as in temperature) like flu or some other illness, or even simply because you can't stand the cold water... the individu can take a shower in 5min or 10min... if you have water heater at home, it's recommended to take the shower with warm water especially if you can't stand cold water. After the shower, make sure you dry your body and hair with tower thoroughly or you'll catch cold or flu afterwards because of extended exposure to cold temperature.

And come to think of it, isn't prolonged cold and flu could cause infections in the sinus and moved to the lungs also which could lead to pneumonia too????

Leave your comment if you get some good ideas to be discussed...