Here at the lab we’ve been hands-on with the Oculus Rift developers’ kit for a few months now, and like everyone else, we were blown away. The Oculus is an incredibly immersive and effective tool that is leaps and bounds ahead of it’s competition. Still, it lacks a certain something—namely, the ability to turn all the way around without choking yourself out. Not to mention the boat anchor that is your computer being tied to your face. Also, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on the HD model. So what did we do? We made Christmas in July… er August.
The 2013 Nexus 7 has 1200 lines of pixels with wide viewing angles. Also, the Nexus 7 has a built in gyroscope that, while not amazing, was still enough to give a semi-comfortable three-degrees-of-freedom control. The new construction on the Nexus 7 is lightweight enough so that even with the battery, it is still comfortable enough to attach to the front of your face. Best of all, the Nexus 7 is a full Android tablet, so finally we have a fully wireless head-mounted-display that can power a Unity-based Oculus Rift experience!
So how do you attach a Nexus 7 to an Oculus Rift? Easy! Just Dremel off the built-in LCD display, the connecting wires, and some of the surrounding plastic panel, then attach the new Nexus 7 with zip ties. The end result? An Ocunexulus 7!
DISCLAIMER: Don’t actually do any of this!!! This effectively destroys the Oculus Rift as you know it.
First, pop off the plastic clips that hold the original Oculus Rift screen to the eyepiece. This can be done with a little force from a thin screw driver at key points around the screen. See iFixit’s teardown for the nitty-gritty.
Next, very carefully cut around the wire’s attach point on the eyepiece, freeing the whole screen and box from the eyepiece.
In order to have the slightly larger-framed Nexus 7 set on the eyepiece correctly, you will need to carefully Dremel around the edge of the eyepiece exposing the resting pads that are attached from the inside. Do not Dremel away these pads or you will not have a place to set the screen at a correct-enough viewing distance!
Lastly, cut some attachment points for the zip ties. It is best to do a small line cut so they do not rotate too much while in use. Cut a slot in each of the four corners to attach a zip tie later. The last cut you will need with the Dremel is to cut several “U” shape out of the headgear portion. You must remove the eyepiece from the headband, and then cut a “U” shape on all four corners allowing the zip ties to go through both the adjustable headgear and the eyepiece.
Then just write a barrel-distortion code correctly aligned to the modified dimensions of the new display, update the camera projection with the orientation indicated by the Nexus 7′s gyroscope & accelerometers, and voila!