Virtual reality is suddenly a high-profile topic everywhere, from Facebook to gaming. And while such ideas have been around as long as computer graphics, consumer tech is finally catching up with the vision. Here’s the thing: now as we move from sci-fi to reality, it’s not totally clear what this tech is for. Sure, it’s fun for immersive games, but beyond that?

One way to find out: try it yourself.

Benjamin S. Hopkins writes us having done just that. This is definitely a hack – a proof of concept experiment to see what might be possible. But what’s clever about it is that he’s done it without any of those fancy new goggles. This is last-gen tech, a simple PlayStation Eye webcam. So it’s indeed a teaser of what could be about to happen.

Here’s the basic flow:

Benjamin takes a $10 (!) Sony camera.

Using the Unity3D game engine, he adds custom virtual geometry onto the high-FPS video of his (real) turntables and mixers.

The result: you get overlaid imagery, in 3D, in real time. And that means the music can take three-dimensional form in space. Careful – this might make you a little motion sick.

What’s really exciting about this is not so much what you see, but the potential – keeping in mind this was one person and ten bucks and a few days.

For a few days work, I think this turned out quite well. There’s lots of possibilities here, for example using the eye’s 120fps mode and markers on the tone arm/platter, visual tracking could be used to determine orientation and update virtual representations rather than relying on the video feed. Using multiple cameras could also be used to get higher quality video of each turntable/mixer etc.

That could open up new ways of DJing, freed even of turntables, or new possibilities in visuals in clubs and beyond.

The only way to find out will be to keep experimenting.

Mixed Reality DJ [kode80 blog]

Updated – he’s been working away, even while waiting on new hardware.

I posted a short vine over the weekend demoing some new lighting and am planning on continuing development on this project; better visualizations, better tracking and Vive support once I get my hands on the HW.