Apr 28, 2017 | By Benedict

XRobots’ James Bruton has used 3D printing and VR to build what he calls a “Giant LEGO HyperReality Blaster,” a 3D printed LEGO gun that can “shoot a Lego brick through the virtual world and back into the physical world to hit a giant Lego Minifig target.”

For all its supposed “useful” applications, it’s hard to shake the feeling that virtual reality is 99% about having fun. And having fun is exactly what XRobot’s James Bruton likes to do: just have a look at his amazing 3D printed Star Wars BB-8 robot or outrageous steampunk gear for proof.

So when the maker extraordinaire decided to incorporate HTC Vive VR tech into a giant LEGO gun, the results were bound to be amusing, if not downright fascinating.

Bruton’s Giant LEGO HyperReality Blaster with Vive VR Tracking is a toy gun unlike any we’ve ever seen. Not because it’s bright yellow, but because it can shoot objects across two different realities. That’s right, Bruton has made a target practice game in which the player can wield their oversized blaster to shoot giant LEGO men—in both the virtual and physical worlds.

By syncing up a physical environment with a virtual one, Bruton was able to make a world in which physical LEGO men can be shot and knocked over by virtual bullets.

How? By creating Arduino-controlled stands for the figurines with small levers at the base, Bruton set up the game to artificially knock over the physical targets exactly when they are struck by bullets (LEGO man heads, of course…) in the virtual world.

Players line up their targets through a seven-inch screen built into the blaster, fire using the trigger of an HTC Vive controller, and then witness the devastation of their shooting both on-screen and in the real world in front of them.

It’s an incredibly nifty concept, and one that the maker thinks could be taken way further—in gaming, art installations, and other areas too.

“Although this is a bit like augmented reality, which overlays digital imagery onto the physical world, this goes a step further by overlaying the physical world back onto the virtual world,” Bruton says.

Both the giant LEGO blaster and oversized LEGO Minifig targets are 3D printed. Bruton found a number of LEGO STL files (bricks and Minifigs) on Thingiverse, before editing them in Fusion 360 and printing them on a LulzBot 3D printer in PLA. The oversized 3D printed bricks could be assembled just like regular LEGO bricks.

The virtual environment in which the LEGO head bullets are fired at targets was designed in Unity 3D, a game development platform.

“I spent some time aligning the virtual LEGO gun barrel with where the real one is relative to the handset, and also aligning the LEGO Minifigs so they’re in the same virtual and physical spaces in the room,” Bruton said.

The Giant LEGO HyperReality Blaster is obviously an incredibly fun project, but it’s hard not to agree with Bruton when he suggests that the mixed-reality experience could be incorporated into a whole range of future applications.

“This is a technical proof of concept to show how we can mix physical and virtual reality in the same physical space,” Bruton said. “There’s lots of other ideas we could do: imagine an art or a prop display, or some sort of installation where you can go along, pick up a virtual camera, and shoot or affect somehow the virtual world that then comes back into the physical world to make something else happen.”

See the amazing 3D printed LEGO blaster in action below.



Posted in Fun with 3D Printing



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