SEAR-RL Version 2 [or how to build your own Microsoft Hololens, VRVANA Totem, MagicLeap, and/or [most probably] Apple’s VR Headset* today.]

Considering how much technology has improved the past couple of years, and the fact I am coming to the end of my Masters this year I have decided to try to build a better [more portable version] of SEAR again.

This is brain-dead hack, but I am posting this here in-case it isn’t obvious to some people.   If you are inching to do some Augmented Reality prototyping development and cannot wait for the Microsoft Hololens, VRVANA Totem, MagicLeap, [or Apple’s VR/AR Headset*] to be released; this may be a solution.   Plus, as a bonus, it is very mobile.

You need 4 things.

Items for home-brew Augmented Reality

Items for home-brew Augmented Reality

You need an:

  • iPhone 6
  • Google Cardboard v2
  • Occipital Structure Sensor
  • mounting bracket for Structure Sensor.


Now, you might be able to use an iPhone 5 but you will probably have to build your own bracket [more on that in a bit].

You can either build you own Google CardBoard from a pizza box.  You can find instructions for that here on:

However, most of those plans are for CardBoard V1, which I do not recommend because of the magnet issue. [Seriously Google, what were you thinking?]  But if you don’t mind paying about $20, you can buy a simple kit all over the internet.  Amazon has a ton.

The Structure Sensor is from Occipital.  It is the same Kinect like sensor that PrimSense made for Microsoft and Kinect 1.

Finally the mounting bracket. Occipital provides a CAD kit if you want to build your own bracket and you have access to a 3D printer.  They also had a contest in partnership with Shapeways [a 3D Print-on-Demand Company] for the best user-created bracket.   You can purchase some of the winning designs here.

Although, I really liked the Grand Prize Winner Max Tönnemann’s design,  I decided to go with Brian Smith’s design.  The reason is Brian’s design is just slightly shorter.   Unlike Max’s design in which the Structure Sensor is mounted on top of the bracket, Brian’s design mounts the camera in the bracket, which makes the overall height lower.   This translates to a closer center of gravity on your face.

VR and AR cameras are already weird enough to wear so you want to decrease the front heaviness as much as possible.   Still I do plan on checking out Max’s design at some point in the future.

Now for the magic.

You want to cut holes in the Google CardBoard to the match the holes in the bracket for the sensor and the phone’s camera as such:

Demo of hole cut into Google Cardboard to fit Structure Sensor.

Holes cut into Google Cardboard.


Now you will need to make the hole for the iPhone camera slightly bigger then the bracket’s hole.  Otherwise, you are are not going to get the full frame for view for the iPhone camera.

Once you do that, put the sensor into the bracket.

Structure Sensor Mounted in a bracket.

Structure Sensor Mounted in a bracket.

After that place the sensor/bracket assembly in the CardBoard with the Sensor going thought the larger hole you just cut.  Then close up the Google CardBoard.

The resulting should look like such:

Structure Sensor mounted in a modified Google CardBoard V2.

Structure Sensor mounted in a modified Google CardBoard V2.

Yes, the front of the CardBoard will jut out, but this is good as you need the extra room to attach the Structure Sensor cable.

At this point you are ready to go.

Just remember the entire headset is now a bit heavier, so you may have to re-enforce the velcro straps if you use them to hold the CardBoard to your head, but otherwise you are done.

Hope this helps people with AR Prototyping.

As for me, I have to rewrite some code… again.  *Sigh*




* It is total speculation if Apple is making a VR/AR headset and what it will be like.  However, if they are, I feel like it is a safe bet it will something like this, just with a wider Field of View

**  Occipital, if you sales spikes because of this you owe me a second sensor at least [or a trip to Boulder, I miss Colorado].