As the Kros Operating System is being created specifically to unlock the full potential of mixed reality (VR and AR) hardware, I thought it might be appropriate to discuss the hardware – specifically what I’ve used for the development process, what else will work with Kros, and what happens as the hardware advances.
My Hardware Setup
I’ve been using the following mixed reality equipment for developing the Kros proof-of-concept:
- HTC Vive headset (without the external beacons)
- Stereolabs Zed Mini stereo camera
- Leap Motion hand tracker
If you have these items, you can put together the same setup by following Stereolab’s guide on using the Leap Motion and the ZED Mini.
As part of the process of making my setup portable, I’ll be adding the Nvidia Jetson AGX Xavier as the portable computer unit. In addition, though the Leap Motion has worked well, I’ll be switching to a hand tracking system that only requires the Zed Mini camera for reasons I’ll cover in a future post.
Along the way, I also tried two small individual cameras which worked well for augmented reality, but I found that using the Zed Mini resulted in easier stereo calibration.
My intention with Kros is to make an operating system for a specific purpose – to facilitate mixed reality computing – not for a specific set of hardware. As a result, the Kros system is just software and not hardware, and while we may offer some hardware products (such as developer kits), Kros aims to be completely hardware vendor neutral.
For a computer to run Kros, it needs:
- sufficient computing power
- a headset that provides AR and pure VR
- a headset mounted camera
- hand tracking
Those requirements can be met in various ways, such as:
- a VR headset with a mounted stereo camera for AR passthrough and hand tracking
- a VR headset that can turn on optical passthrough, with a mounted camera, plus hand tracking gloves
Kros will try to support any hardware configuration that satisfies the minimum functionality and has the drivers. I believe that many of the currently available VR and AR hardware components could be incorporated into such a setup.
Kros’s hardware vendor neutrality produces several advantages. To begin with, it will foster a competitive hardware landscape. Users with different systems will be able to use Kros, and applications developed for Kros will be able to run on most of those systems. Users with different budgets and needs will be able to choose the system that works best for them. In addition, Kros will foster innovation going forward since it will be able to incorporate the newest developments in mixed reality that become available regardless of the vendor.
I expect that VR and AR hardware will improve dramatically in the coming years, and it’s my intention that Kros will be updated to take full advantage of advances as they occur. Potential areas of improvement include the display and hand tracking. But whatever form these improvements take, the new computer experience that’s possible with Kros and mixed reality hardware will only get better.
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