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Linux Kernel Module For Nintendo Powerglove 236

Posted by timothy
from the perfect-for-sysadmin-doom dept.
antistatickid writes: "I've dusted off some schematics for a simple parallel interface to the nintendo powerglove (circa 1990), and have written a linux kernel module for the device since none of the old code works anymore. I'm hoping to generate some interest in homebrew vr: the gloves are cheap, and can be used for things like controlling midi synthesizers with the wave of your hand (a demo of which I've included on the project page)."
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Linux Kernel Module For Nintendo Powerglove

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  • by yeoua (86835) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:33PM (#4066778)
    You can use this for interactive gaming pr0n!!

    Too bad it doesn't have tactile feedback.
  • by TibbonZero (571809) <Tibbon AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:35PM (#4066795) Homepage Journal
    Wow, some interesting things could be pulled off with a few synthezers, a Thermin and a Powerglove. I wonder if the Thermin and Powerglove would react badly together. This could be cool for playing guitar as well. Trigger odd sounds, or patch changes with your pinky...

    Best of all, think of the applications for singers. No longer is them moving their hands around in the air pointless and retarded looking, but it could actually affect thing such as lighting and tempo even (of MIDI tracks)...
    I can't wait to get a powerglove on Ebay now... but there will probably be a rush of powerglove bids now too


    • The whole point of the Theremin is that you only need to use your bare hands, since the tone is a function of the distance between you and the pitch rod. I think a Powerglove would just complicate things. However, this could be a real boon for MIDI artists on a serious budget(PD/Jmax). There is a rich history of glove interfaces to other Midi instruments. The MAX [cycling74.com]programming environment has a 'glove' object that interfaces with the new defunct Gold Brick interface. Plus, for the ultimate in coolness, there's Laetitia Sonami's Lady's Glove [sonami.net], which rocks my world. Check out the video [mit.edu].
    • I don't think the powerglove will affect the theremin at all (I play theremin, but have no powerglove or I'd test it first).
      The theremin reacts the your body's electromagnetic field. Touching a metal part of the signal chain (such as the case of a stompbox or rackmount effects box the theremin might be plugged into, or a metal part of the speaker cabinet). If the powerglove doesn't have any conductive surfaces making contact with the hand it's on, it shouldn't affect the tone. If it does, it might affect the tone a little, like shifting a specific point in the air a certain distance from the pitch antenna that's normally a C note up to a C#, or down to a B. I can get this kind of pitch shift by touching the strings of the Chapman Stick, a guitar-like instrume nt I play, when the Stick is plugged into the amplifier. I've tried using an E-Bow with theremin and it had no effect on the tone whatsoever.
      links:
      http://www.stick.com/
      http://www.therem inworld.com/
      http://www.moogmusic.com/
      http://ww w.e-bow.com/ .
  • Bad Old Days (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:37PM (#4066814)
    I really had a hard time using the Power Glove for its intended purpose. I have an equally hard time believing that this particular piece of hardware will produce a pleasant experience in its new role. Anybody else remember how terrible these things were?
    • Re:Bad Old Days (Score:3, Interesting)

      by scott1853 (194884)
      Yep. I was happy to get one for Christmas, and after about 30 minutes of constant dying because it wasn't responsive enough, and because the shoddy sensors kept falling off the TV, I was happy to put it in the closet.
      • My brother had one. I imagine that all of the ones still in existence should be near mint, as NOBODY could use the freakin' things, so they were either tossed aside or beaten to bits with a hammer.

    • Re:Bad Old Days (Score:5, Interesting)

      by antibryce (124264) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @10:06PM (#4067011)
      A friend of mine used powergloves as part of a research project in college, and he said if you stripped out the sensors and mounted them on a pair of thin leather gloves they're MUCH more responsive. I dunno how accurate that is, but it would make sense that a huge rubber/plastic glove would affect things a bit.
    • Wow, I'm glad to find out others had the same problem! It SUCKED for what it was supposed todo, $100 down the drain until I listed it on Ebay a few months ago, actually got $40 for it! I guess there's still a market for useless crap afterall ;)
    • I had a hard time trusting Nintendo for its controllers. The PowerPad was a piece of trash... Nintendo tried to produce a pad that you could actually "run" on by jumping on its "foot" touch sensors. The problem was that the sensors did not work well with an 8-year-old 80 lb. kid. It worked for someone who was heavier, but then their foot actually would come in contact with more than one sensor (it was not really an adult-size power pad).

      Another controller that was absolute trash was the wireless controller. It would only work if you pointed the thing point-blank at the IR sensor that would sit by the Nintendo. If you were about 2-5 feet away (and pointed the controller right at the sensor), it would work about 90% of the time (which, mind you, is not good to have, considering that the other 10% of the time always seemed to come right when you were right over a pitfall in Mario or right in front of the boss...I get really pissed when I die thanks to a controller that wouldn't work when I needed it the most). Anything beyond 5 feet would fade in and out too frequently to ever want to mess with it.

      I never tried the PowerGlove, but knowing the history of other Nintendo controllers, I'm glad I never had the displeasure to work with it either.
      • Mattel made the power glove, not Nintendo.
      • I'm guessing you never used the NES Advantage.. the best joystick ever? The rapid/turbo buttons were the best (adjustable, even) and the heavy casing made the joystick really durable.
      • by madman2002 (468554) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @02:26AM (#4068066)
        We're talking about the era of 8-bit gaming here not the 21st century. The NES was one step up from the Atari, the video-game industry was still in it's infancy when these peripherials was designed. Sure they make MUCH better wireless controllers now, but where do you think the basis for these Super Peripherials came from? The shoddy NES peripherials of course! Sure the pads were a bad idea (which is why we don't see many similar ones produced today) but give them a break, they thought it would be cool so they did it. It wasn' so they dumped it. The people that created these peripherials were pioneers and innovators, trying out new ideas in a new market, which is why you can go out and buy a beautifully designed and implemented wavebird now :).

        Of course I'm sure consumers would have been happier if the crappier of the peripherials (such as the pads) had never gotten out of the labs but we can't forget that this was before the days of the internet (well at least as a popular communication medium). If they wanted to see how people would respond to an idea (wireless controllers) they had to make them and see how well they sold, I'm willing to bet that the profits from those shoddy peripherials went into the R&D of better versions which leads us to the 21st century and all the neat toys we have now.

        In short, yesterdays peripherials may have been bulky and error prone but they paved the way for the light and near-perfect ones we have today. Just my $.02
    • I remember the day my friend told me he got a Power Glove -- we were at school, and I had to wait all day to go to his house and try it out. Obviously, the first game we tried to play with it was Mike Tyson's Punch Out. We probably played it for 2 hours, and got beat by Glass Joe 75% of the time ... we ended up trying a few other games with it, the only one we had any success with was Super Mario Brothers. This thing was truly horrible for playing video games ... btw, 'The Wizard' was a total scam!
    • by CMiYC (6473) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @11:19PM (#4067396) Homepage
      All I remember is... "Whoa! The Power Glove!!"
      • by Myco (473173) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @02:04AM (#4068006) Homepage
        You don't remember the oft-repeated line, "Califoooornia," in a whine that would make Luke Skywalker wince? Hmm, what else... I believe that Lucas (the glove-owning character) actually uttered the line "love the glove" or something like that.

        Another odd thing I remember about that movie is a scene from the sub-plot where the dad and the older brother are on the road trying to find the kids. The dad stays up all night playing TMNT, and says something like "I can't stop now, I just got the scroll weapon!" Which is ludicrous for a couple of reasons. First, the scroll weapon is available reasonably early in the game (though I guess if he just sucks at the game he could be proud anyway). Second, I don't think the game ever actually referred to it as "the scroll weapon." I remember playing the game and wondering why everyone called it that. Probably came from Nintendo Power or something.

        Ah, thinking about The Wizard brings back memories. Remember the third player in the final round? Okay, show of hands, who thought she had any chance at all of winning? Anyone? She was so obviously the fall guy (fall girl?) it was absurd.

        Why don't they make heartwarming movies about exploiting autistic savants anymore? The Wizard, Rain Man... is that the end of the genre?

    • There are plenty of projects to use this device.

      I've got an old book (i'm now hunting for now) which has C examples of not only ways to use it but also simple 3D worlds to navigate with it.

      Very cool, can work with a bunch of games too... best part is once you are writing software for it you can adjust the response (to a point...)

  • This will be cool (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TrollsamaBinLaden (599568) <fyrbug1@msn.com> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:38PM (#4066817)
    Has this been tested with the nes emulators yet? Punch out time baby! Props to anyone with such great potential to advance the emu community.
  • "I love the glove, It's so bad." -Lucas in The Wizard
  • I can definitely use one these, ever since the unfortunate accident which robbed me of two fingers. You can't make this stuff up, people! Anyway, I wonder what this could be used for, maybe as a part of a 3-D filesystem? Add a pair of stereovision goggles and you've got a Lawnmower Man scenario on your hands (pun intended).
  • More information... (Score:4, Informative)

    by cdrj (556227) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:40PM (#4066833)
    More information on the glove and its applications on the computer can be found at http://www.cms.dmu.ac.uk/~cph/pg.html
  • Wrong use! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Scutter (18425) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:44PM (#4066864) Journal
    Screw synths! You should be playing Black & White [ea.com]!
  • by deke_2503 (569986) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:46PM (#4066884)
    Use it instead of a mouse, sort of a touchscreen without touch.
    Or, make it wireless and use it as a remote for a TV. Imagine waving your hand to change the channel, volume, etc.
    Connect it to your stereo in a similar fashion.
    Use it to steer the lawnmower around the yard--just move your hand and fingers, while sipping daquiries from a lawnchair.

    Think of the possibilities! It's almost like being a jedi!

    • by Anonymous Coward
      good idea, but I'm not sure daquiries mix well with lawnmowers, but it's fine as long as the drunken blademaster isn't near me.
    • Imagine waving your hand to change the channel, volume, etc.

      "This is not the channel you're looking for...."
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Think of the possibilities! It's almost like being a jedi!

      Forgive me. It's late, and I'm drunk... But I could've sworn that said "It's almost like being a yeti!"
    • Couldn't it be used instead of those one-handed keyboards? After all, you'd surely have more freedom in defining the gestures for the letters, since you don't have buttons at fixed positions. You might even be able to "train" it to your own set of gestures with appropriate software. In any case, you'd have the advantage not having to hold something in your hand, thus not being contrained in your gestures by just hindering it falling down.

      As a starting point for a gesture set, one could use the "finger alphabet" of the deaf (which would be the equivalent of speech recognition for those, and not any more arbitrary than any other set of gestures for all others).
  • by antis0c (133550) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:47PM (#4066892)
    Just like Mouse Gestures, one could have Motion Macros, move your hand in a specific pattern while typing, and have it insert predefined text. Depending on sensitivity, one could do really cool stuff while typing with the Power Glove on.
    • Just like Mouse Gestures, one could have Motion Macros, move your hand in a specific pattern while typing, and have it insert predefined text. Depending on sensitivity, one could do really cool stuff while typing with the Power Glove on.

      Have you ever SEEN a Powerglove? Nobody's going to be typing with THAT on!
  • by Mornelithe (83633) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:49PM (#4066902)
    I was beginning to think we wouldn't have any stories that invited obligatory porn comments today! :)

    • > I was beginning to think we wouldn't have any stories that invited obligatory porn comments today!

      Yep... just add a joystick and all the wankers can be virtual wankers.

  • Wireless Mod? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TibbonZero (571809) <Tibbon AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:50PM (#4066912) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if there is anyway to mod the Powerglove even more to make it wireless? (I am thinking of performance live)
    Just hack open a wireless Nintendo controller? And use the insides of it? Use batteries to power the glove?
    Electronics on the compenent level isn't my type of thing, but I feel that it's possible. Is it?

  • by TheFrood (163934) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:53PM (#4066928) Homepage Journal
    Seanbaby [seanbaby.com] has some rather amusing remarks [seanbaby.com] about the Power Glove (and other useless Nintendo peripherals.)

    TheFrood
    • by kaustik (574490)
      Looks like the site is slowly dying. Thanks a lot! Managed to snag the Power Glove comment:

      "The third nominee is the Power Glove. This was a device originally designed so players could have a hand free while playing Hot Slots, Bubble Bath Babes, and Peek-A-Boo Poker. The players demanded it immediately, so the designers didn't have time to work all of the bugs out before its release. In fact the designers based 98% of the Power Glove technology on one of their nephew's fifth grade science projects. The technology worked great as an automatic pet door, but as a game controller there were some problems. The Nintendo couldn't quite figure out what your hand was doing and most of the time the character you were supposed to be controlling would stagger off a cliff or just make faces at you and mock your Flash Gordon glove. This would continue for hours until you finally returned the damn glove to its appropriate place on the cat. This high tech hip device almost could have worked as a way to enhance the challenge of a game you've already beaten, but closing your eyes would basically have the same effect. And cost about a hundred dollars less. Of course, then you wouldn't bag as many chicks as the guys who had the Power Glove, would you?"
  • by ThePurpleBuffalo (111594) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @09:53PM (#4066929)
    As I recall, the original hack was done by Steve Ciarcia, who was working for Byte Magazine at the time. Now he runs an equally interesting magazine/website Circuit Cellar Inc. (http://www.circuitcellar.com/)

    Steve has a number of projects that the average lay-person could do, including a touch screen for computers (used the parallel port). He also has a crapload of funny stories about "one-up'ing" his neighbour in some of his older books.

    Beware TPB
  • There has been a lack of variety lately in input devices for consoles... At least there's the DDR pad... and that's hard to get ... Come on, PS2 DDR. But there hasn't beeen a gun for the new systems, and why don't they use new technologies to revive the power glove. What's the state of driving wheels? What about new devices?
    • That's true. The NES really had alot of different input devices (some absurd, some cool). Alot of them were made with the disabled in mind (guess they don't play games these days...) Things I remember:
      Something you could blow into to make the NES work (for disabled people)
      Exercise Bike mod (or was it a whole bike?)
      Running Pad (PowerPad?)
      Thing that you put your hands and and moved them around in mid air
      Arcade style controllers
      Shoulder mount gun thing (made by Nintendo)

      There were all sorts of cool things, but alas, we are too 'safe' now in making of devices for gaming systems.

    • wrong, wrong, wrong (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gizzmonic (412910)
      You obviously haven't taken much of a look at a console in quite a while. The Dreamcast, for example, has the following specialized controllers:
      • Arcade stick (for street fighter II style games)
      • Fishing Controller
      • Dance Mat (Dreamcast has DDR too!)
      • Keyboard (Gotta love typing of the dead)
      • Light Gun
      • Race Wheel
      • Mad Katz Panther (for FPS-these are very rare)
      • and of course, the king of all controllers, the Maracas controller...for Samba de Amigo, of course.

      The PS2 has less types of controllers, but it has some unusual ones like the vibrating neck massager for Rez.

  • translation... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by skydude_20 (307538) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @10:03PM (#4066986) Journal
    if you can get it to read in the different ways you wave your hands around, then voila! a great method for 'printing' sign language. even if you didn't need sign language, you can still learn it and type papers by the motions of your hands and now know how to communicate to a whole world of people...
    • Re:translation... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CoolVibe (11466)
      Too bad real sign language won't work though. Because with real sign language, stuff we use in language as filler are left out, and only the most important words are left.

      Obviously, computers are quite incapable of filling in the blanks intelligently. Of course they can do a so-so job, but there will be flaws.

      What will work is your own sign "language" of course. :)

      • Re:translation... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by aardvarkjoe (156801)
        Well, sign language is a completely different language; I would expect the difficulty to be comparable to translating between two different written languages. (There's a lot more to sign language than "Simple English with words missing," though that's a rather common misconception.) There's nothing particularly special about the translation just because the communication medium is different.
        • (There's a lot more to sign language than "Simple English with words missing," though that's a rather common misconception.)

          I know that, I'm sorry if it came out this way. I didn't mean that to come out that way :). I know there are different grammar rules. In fact, you made my point better than I made. I thank you for that.

          I'll just blame my non-englishness (heck, I'm dutch) and botch up some more context and comprehension :)

    • Take a look at:

      http://www.crmdaily.com/perl/story/16164.html

      Sounds like the device you are talking about...
  • Sweet! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GoRK (10018) <<moc.ocbrulb> <ta> <lnhoj>> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @10:09PM (#4067023) Homepage Journal
    Very cool! I built this hack in like 1993, and it was hard to find a power glove even then. Now, it must be rather impossible.

    A tip for hax0rs: The power glove is very SMALL (even the large one). I completely dispensed with the original glove that came with it to make mine. I took the control pad off and put a simple belt clip on it. Next, i extended the hand part and the ultrasonic sounders away from the controller with some 15 conductor cable. Finally, I sewed the finger bend sensors onto the fingers of a golf glove that went on the right hand and had the fingertips cut out (the original power glove is a lefty device.) Anyway, the idea was to get rid of the bulky garbage of the powerglove in order to make a little dataglove that i could still type while wearing.

    I still have it here. Heck, I still have the monitor with the velcro on it! I'm very excited to break it out again and fiddle with this.

    ~GoRK
  • by Ixe (547791)
    YES! I've been waiting for power glove and power pad support in linux.
    You see, I'm building a mega-mame, and if I ever finish it I'll try to get a plug of it up on /. but neways I was able to get gamecon.c from the linux joystick driver to do my NES/SNES (and soon to be PSX and N64) stuff and for the actual MAME parts of course I'll be using a keyboard hack and real controls.

    Now I can add a powerglove! I dunno how I can get it to work with the games, but it'd be a heck of a cool menuing system selection device...

    THANK YOU l33t KERNEL[MODULE] DEV'S YOU'RE MY HEROES!
  • Force Grip (Score:5, Funny)

    by user32.ExitWindowsEx (250475) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @10:10PM (#4067028)
    Oooh. Now I can be just like Darth Vader! I can Force Grip rogue processes!
    Someone please port this to Windows so I can Force Grip the whole OS. :p
  • Gestures? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by InfiniteReality (9709)
    Is it me, or would this work great for gestures in Opera and Mozilla? Move your hand left to go back, right to go forward, and up and down to scroll the document (not viable for pr0n).

    It would sort of look like the video manipulation in Minority Report.
  • by NanoGator (522640) on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @10:17PM (#4067074) Homepage Journal
    So now Linux is supporting the Power Glove. At this rate, I expect we'll see lightpen support by the end of next year. Heh.
    • Just wait, soon we'll have support for the SUPER SCOPE [emulationzone.org]!!!
      I can't wait. Die dead matlab processes, die!

    • Actually, there was support for the powerglove a long time ago, back when the byte article came out, though I believe you needed the Menelli box to make it into a serial one.

      So, it's not that we are slow to get to new technology, it's just that it takes 9 years to update drivers :)
  • by cdrj (556227)
    Hook ROB up to this and you have a glove controlled, MIDI device that can move small plastic pieces back and forth. This would be the ultimate in usless, nonworking crap wouldn't it?
  • Actually, the first thing I thought of would be to do a "Minority Report"-esque control system for X where you could move windows with the flick of your hand. Not sure exactly how you would do that code-wise (I'm no X11 guru), but it seems to have potential :-).

    -Erwos
  • by Anonymous Coward
    All we need now is a windows port. I can think of some nasty shapes I'd like to twist that paperclip into.
  • Its a little known fact that power golves with linux is the first step towards those neato computers tom cruise uses in the movie.
    • nope sorry - too much effort. Did you notice how big the arm and hand motions Tom Cruise was making in Minority Report? Geeks are laaaazzzyy - no way are we going to make it that difficult to scroll video files to the left - or open a new file....

      small hand movements are much more likely.
      • or for christs sake, how about a command prompt?

        I've seen some people hack away at some nice bash prompts alot quicker than that doofus was "masturabting pigeons" (thank you Mr Cranky).

        Seriously, that movie had some good points about what the future maybe like except for the: lame interface for his computer, the highways vertically on top of 2 mile high buildings (riiight.. after 50 years we barely have a coherent national highway system), and the VR sessions.
  • wonderful.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by DarkHelmet (120004) <mark AT seventhcycle DOT net> on Tuesday August 13, 2002 @10:43PM (#4067224) Homepage
    Great, so now whenever somebody writes something stupid on slashdot I can mod them down by punching the monitor and giving them the bird.

    I can then proceed to mod people up by virtually scratching my balls.

    Good slashdot posts inspire thought, and in the words of Maynard James Keenan, "Whenever I get an idea my balls itch."

  • this is one of the coolest things i've seen on /. in a really long time, many thanks for posting.
    as for the folks who feel a need to say 'it's stupid' or 'it sucks' or 'it's useless' so what? the guy probably had a lot of fun writing the module. he's obviously a big geek -- check out his site -- who likes hacking a LOT, and has found some creative ways to put that energy to work.
    i'm such a clueless newbie that i probably couldn't figure how to get it to work without major help from some people, and forget about writing such a thing, but that doesn't stop me from appreciating the energy and curiosity that go into a personal project.
    i think it rocks, now flame away!
  • Does anyone remember Keanu Reeves use of net/phone in Johnny Pnemonic? Seriously, take an old virtual boy as your 3D goggles, hook this thing up, and start hacking.

    Well, probably not, but it would be pretty damned cool to dial a phone call using virtual buttoms instead of real buttons. It would be just like pushing real buttons only virtual!

    Hey... wait a minute... no, I guess playing Mike Tyson's Punchout and Rad Racer are still the only things the Power Gloves is useful for.
  • You ought to make a program so you can force choke people in video conferencing!
  • "Gee, I think I'll adapt Linux to work with my [Insert any piece of hardware Linux probably should never work with here; Bonus points for obscure and antiquated hardware] !!! It's not like I have anything better [read: Life] to do..." [insert quiet, desperate sobbing here]

    Hey look! My Karma is Excellent! Oooh, I'm gonna need help to change that...
  • Was a really cool, pre VRML rendering system, scene description language (with animation!) that worked really well on the old hardware. I got a powerglove working with it, and wrote a powerglove demo myself (there were a few examples out there). THose were the days.
  • I have three powerglvoes, and one set of the trancievers...time to dust them off!

    ttyl
    Farrell
  • I use my Power Glove with this. [slashdot.org]
  • Real DataGloves (Score:4, Interesting)

    by f00Dave (251755) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @12:07AM (#4067581) Homepage
    Why hasn't anyone built a *REAL* dataglove for the masses yet? The PowerGlove is a lame-ass mockery of a real 3-space input device and is only good for use in simplistic games or other 'toy' applications!

    Wow, that reads like a Flamebait. ;-)

    What I'd really like to see is a cheap-in-volume 'glove pair' input device (say 100$ for the MS version and 30$ for the Logitech one, like mice or keyboards) that would stream the positions of the fingers and hands over a hot-pluggable USB connection. I have a bazillion applications for that sort of device, and even a good headstart on a way to produce one on my own for about 300$ per pair (and a whole lot of time I just don't have). I'm sure *someone* has already had similar thoughts....

    For reference purposes, my (rather fluid) specifications are for a system that:
    - spits out positions of the fingertips accurate to 1 cubic mm or so within a cubic meter in your 'work area' (ie: a volume sitting above a traditional keyboard's location at a desk)
    - tethered or wireless, as the case may be (wireless is an extra cost, of course, but not THAT much extra - it's mainly the short battery life that sucks for this)
    - 60 Hz or better refresh rate for each of the sensed positions
    - serial or USB input stream, similar to a 2D mouse's, only with a LOT more coordinates ... this is emminently compressible data, too, should bandwidth prove an issue (though there's always FireWire and USB2.0, I guess)

    So, why should everyone have one of these? Well, I can't give away ALL my secrets, but people laughed at the mouse, didn't they? =) A 3D desktop metaphor requires a 3D interface device, and 'air mice' sort of suck. Wands are only good for limited applications ... remember light pens? (They're the same thing as a mouse, in a 2D sense, and you don't see many light pens kicking around today, do you? =] )

    How would you like to type on a virtual keyboard, configured any way you want it to be, anywhere in space you chose to place it? How about a 20-DoF controller for videogames? Music synthesis with 20+ DoFs, each affecting a different component of the sound (left hand for timber and right for pitch, volume and sequencing)? Just as the mouse hardware drove the creation of a billion 2D applications, so will 3D 'glove' hardware drive a billion more.

    But only, ONLY if it's CHEAP. If anyone knows an electrical engineer that wants to work on the hardware end of a project with me (I've got the hardware feasability, sample applications and reconstruction algorithms mostly worked out ... but no time to spend on implementation), give 'em my email.... f00Dave@bigfoot.com

    God, that was a lot longer that I'd expected it to be. Must be the heat. =)
    • Re:Real DataGloves (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rusty0101 (565565) on Wednesday August 14, 2002 @01:39AM (#4067920) Homepage Journal
      - spits out positions of the fingertips accurate to 1 cubic mm or so within a cubic meter in your 'work area' (ie: a volume sitting above a traditional keyboard's location at a desk)
      - tethered or wireless, as the case may be (wireless is an extra cost, of course, but not THAT much extra - it's mainly the short battery life that sucks for this)
      - 60 Hz or better refresh rate for each of the sensed positions
      - serial or USB input stream, similar to a 2D mouse's, only with a LOT more coordinates ... this is emminently compressible data, too, should bandwidth prove an issue (though there's always FireWire and USB2.0, I guess)


      Not to dampen your intentions, I think they are admirable, however I do have a couple of notes on this for you. A meter is a bit arbitrary, and will give you problems with limits and data bandwidth.

      For example, most people work en an environment where reaching a meter above their keyboard is only done when they are about to impart excessive forces on the keyboard in frustration. Unless you are doing something that requires position sensitive gogles as well, you are probably going to be better off working with half a meter vertically.

      On the other hand reaching out to each side is not particularly unusual, and will easily exceed one meter side to side for most people. A range of either a meter and a half, or two meters would be safer.

      This resolution of 1 cubic mm is also going to be expensive. I would think that it would make much more sense to vector track the hands, perhaps with a palm sensor which would give rough estimates of direction and speed while moving, then provide more accurate positioning data once stopped relative to the earlier movement. A surgon using such a glove is going to consider one millimeter to be aufull sloppy if he has to make an incision. At the same time, when reaching out towards the ends of our reaches, we are less interested in that 1 mm sensitivity. With a little bit of thought, you could use this area as broader spectrum navigation. Similar to using edge detection to move from one virtual screen to another, if you cross the edge of the sensors range, your virtual working area changes. If you are doing distance surgury, reaching into some areas would activate instrument changes.

      Also of note is that the fingertips are rarely more than 150 mm from the center of your palm. You could easily use different resolutions for different fingers as well. As an example, you could use a sensitivity of 1 mm for your thumb, and .1 mm resolution for your index finger. You could also reduce the number of sensors required by recognizing that the ring finger is rarely as strong as the rest of the fingers, and eliminate that sensor. (for most movements, other than typing and musical instruments, the ring finger acts in concert with the pinkey.)

      For purposes of the calculations of bandwidth I will use the dimensions you have provided however. You are free to use whatever of the ideas I have noted to finetune these. (given the fact that the fingers on each hand are always close together, you could compress the information by giving one finger's position at 10 bits x, 10 bits y, 10 bits z, then offset the remaining fingers from that position with 7 bits per dimension.

      In any case, if you give each dimension a seprate holder, the smallest number of bits you can send per sample is 300. (10 bits per direction, [2^10=1024] three dimensions per finger, 10 fingers) multiply this by 60 samples per second, and you are running 18kbps. Even if you ad overhead, such as a stop bit every dimension, and a start bit for every sample, the bandwidth requirements are not high. At least not by modern communications standards anyway. The problem is that we do not have that many devices that are both moving (which will cause wire and fibres to ultimately breakdown) and sensing their environment that use this kind of bandwidth.

      I suspect that whatever solution you put together will be regularly susceptible to failure due the the multiple moving parts required to track the hands of the user. You might be able to find a way to do it with fingertip and palm sensors that wirelessly communicate with each other, or that each communicate with a base station of some sort. One example would be a two camera system working with florescent fingertips that the user would wear. Similar in effect to a motion capture system.

      Oh, well, best of luck to you in your venture...

      -Rusty
      • You've made a good, informative post that should have been moderated higher. Alas I have no points to spend, and I can't moderate in a discussion anyway. Heh.... Please allow me to address your key points, however.

        A meter is a bit arbitrary, and will give you problems with limits and data bandwidth.

        On the contrary, the bandwidth isn't an issue, as you demonstrated, but may be a bit limiting, if it was a cubic area (which it won't be, but that's beside the point). ... you are probably going to be better off working with half a meter vertically and ... either a meter and a half, or two meters [horizontally]...

        The intention (not clearly stated in my original message) was to provide a box-like work area, with absolute precision greatest near the 'keyboard' area, and poorest overhead or off to the sides. Most people work with tools or whatever immediately in front of them. A sphere with a 1m radius, centered inside an 'enhanced' keyboard (fancy base station?) would easily meet the requirements for precision near the middle while preserving some sort of sensitivity (even if imprecise) at the extremes.

        Also of note is that the fingertips are rarely more than 150 mm from the center of your palm...

        My actual design calls for an absolute position and orientation of the hand body (local coordinate system), and relative coordinates for the fingertips from there. Like I said, LOTS of room for compression. With humans, the relative positions of the fingertips (to each other, the hand body and the other fingers) is what matters most. This data is much more important than absolute positions, since we have visual and tactil feedback mechanisms for dealing with absolutes.

        With regard to your surgeon example, I must point out that this is intended to be a consumer product, not a medical one, hence the sub-100$ price tag. The same sort of technology could easily be scaled up in precision and accuracy, however, with a parallel increase in cost and complexity. Unfortunately, the reverse is not yet true: though medical-quality VR gloves do exist, there's no way to scale them down to viable consumer levels due to invasiveness, awkwardness, costs and the rest of it. Well, it's been tried, but you end up with junk like the PowerGlove. A new approach is needed! =] ... 18kbps. Even if you ad overhead, such as a stop bit every dimension, and a start bit for every sample, the bandwidth requirements are not high. At least not by modern communications standards anyway. The problem is that we do not have that many devices that are both moving (which will cause wire and fibres to ultimately breakdown) and sensing their environment that use this kind of bandwidth.

        Moving parts, bulky, heavy gloves and tethers are annoying at best and would kill the marketability, for sure. For it to be acceptable, it would need low-weight, small-size fingertip reflectors or sensors that won't make you look like a total fool. Ideally, it would be stitched into a thin Spandex or even fishnet glove, with plastic 'runners' that could look like fashion accessories.

        I suspect that whatever solution you put together will be regularly susceptible to failure due the the multiple moving parts required to track the hands of the user. You might be able to find a way to do it with fingertip and palm sensors that wirelessly communicate with each other, or that each communicate with a base station of some sort. One example would be a two camera system working with florescent fingertips that the user would wear. Similar in effect to a motion capture system.

        Ever used one of those? I have and it's about the stupidest looking thing on this Earth. Sorry, but unless you can just pull on a non-obtrusive glove and start hacking away, it's never going to fly.

        My design (sorry, but I'm not giving the core details away just yet) has only a pair of thin wires running out to each fingertip. These can easily be woven into the glove material itself, run along flat sheets, like in disk drives, printers and the like, or even just use braided connection wire. The wrists (or backs of the hands, depending), will have the conditioning circuitry and will either run a tether or communicate wirelessly to a base station for connection to the PC. There's really not that much to go wrong, and if something does, it'll just be an easily-repairable open-circuit....

        Oh, well, best of luck to you in your venture...

        Thanks! I'll post to /. when I've got a working prototype. Might take a few years at this rate, though. =)
    • Forget music and videogames. All you need to justify developing this is an application that cycles through images in a directory whenever the glove moves or and down. The online porn industry will love you for it.
    • You've been watching too much Minority Report again, havent you?
      • You've been watching too much Minority Report again, havent you?

        Ironically, I'd just acquired some crucial components to make my glove thing a possibility a week before that movie came out. I was disgusted at the ludicrous gyrations and oversimplification of their tracking device ... total Hollywood garbage.

        Yes, I'm ignoring your humour. Yes, I've been thinking about this for about ten years now. No, it won't look or work anything like the 'glove' in Minority Report.
    • by cr0sh (43134)
      Because of the VPL (Jaron Lanier) patents. Most of what makes a good dataglove is wrapped up in those patents. These patents aren't due to expire for a little while, so we are unlikely to see anything soon. As far as I know, VPL doesn't exist anymore - I can't remember what company holds the patents (one of those "patents aquired for portfolio" shuffle things).
  • eBay (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Apocalypse111 (597674)
    It figures, just as soon as this comes out, all the powergloves on eBay start getting 5-6 bids apiece.
  • Correct me if I am wrong, but... Why wouldn't this work with the standard kernel drivers? Vojtech Pavlik and Andree Borrmann have already written drivers for this, and it works with DB-9 or a DB-25. It works with NES controllers, PSX pads, SNES, and more. It works great. I have it working with my PSX pads at home. It even works with my homebrew arcade stick. Diagrams and Info are available here [linuxhq.com]. This is a kernel module that comes with Linux by default.

    Good, but crude instructions about using a gamepad in Linux can be found here [freelink.cx].

    It is important that you load a few seperate modules.

    parport
    gamepad
    joyconsole

    I think that there is another one. If anyone has any questions, just ask, and I will post what I have in my rc.modules file when I get home and have access to my machine.
    • This module makes use of an "undocumented" mode of the PG called "high-res" mode, which basically send back all the data from the glove (ie, yaw, pitch, roll, X/Y/Z, and finger bend) - whereas the normal "low-res" mode essentially acts as a controller. The driver has to enable the high-res mode of the glove in order for the data to come back in the format. So while the drivers you speak of will probably work, it will only be in low-res standard controller mode, which isn't enough for VR apps (and even in high-res mode, it isn't that great)...
  • I wanted to post that I was able to successfully compile and install this kernel module on my SuSE 7.2/6.3 box (kernel version 2.4.4 - note this). It ran just fine, though I had an issue on compiling (which I have let the author know about):

    Under 2.4, when compiling a kernel module, you aren't allowed to do a "-I/usr/src/linux/include" to include the sources - you need to have the 2.4 sources installed properly and change the Makefile to read "-I/lib/modules/`uname -r`/build/include" - then it will work OK (provided everything else is set up properly in regard to the sources) - plus, I had a problem with the last line in the pglove.c source (MODULE_LICENCE("GPL");), which was causing some kind of error - I just commented it out, not wanting to track it down, and knowing that it wasn't a crit piece for the source.

    Once that was done, the rest went OK - I fired up the module, plugged in PG interface (that I had put together YEARS ago, and it was last used on a 486 back in 1994 with Rend386 in DOS), and started the raw reader (a.out - default gcc output bin).

    It worked just great, as expected (well, I was actually expecting smoke - glad I didn't get any).

    Anyhow, my kudos to the job this guy did - while I doubt it is going to "change the world" - it is a good hack, and I am glad to see it pulled off (as a homebrew VR part-time experimentor).

Premature optimization is the root of all evil. -- D.E. Knuth

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