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Old 06-15-2016, 07:07 PM   #1
MirceaKitsune
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Using an Android device as a second monitor in Linux


Until I can afford a real VR headset like the Oculus Rift, I decided to order a Google Cardboard. With it I hope to use my Android smartphone (Samsung Galaxy S3) as a screen for my computer, maybe even get some cheap head tracking support! There's mainly one problem: How do I use a smartphone or tables as a screen? Since openSUSE Tumbleweed (KDE) is my OS, and the question is half a Linux one, I took the liberty of asking here.

More precisely, I'd like to know if and how I can use an Android smartphone or tablet as a second monitor, through the USB cable or Bluetooth. Can X11 or whatever manages displays on my distro recognize it as such, and properly mirror my monitor onto the device?

As a bonus, although this isn't absolutely necessary: Would it be possible to use the phone's gyroscope / accelerometer as an input device on the computer at the same time? If they could be recognized like a mouse or a drawing tablet, and position the mouse pointer based on the rotation of the phone (starting from the center), I could use it to get head tracking support too!

Note 1: My Android device isn't rooted. I couldn't find any working tools for Linux to do that, nor want to risk damaging it now.

Note 2: I'm aware that a Mirco USB to HDMI cable exists, which would be the most natural way to do this. I seek to use the normal USB cable however... both because I hope to use other features of the phone simultaneously (eg: gyriscope) and because it will need to charge while used as a screen else it will run out of battery quickly.

Note 3: Please don't suggest VNC! It's an idea I'm considering if all else fails, but I don't believe using remote desktop over a WIFI connection is the right way of connecting a display to a computer... rather a hack that would be very laggy.
 
Old 06-15-2016, 08:35 PM   #2
MirceaKitsune
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Sorry for the double post, but short update; I tried both a VR-enabled VNC client, as well as streaming my computer screen to HTTP using VLC... both over local WIFI. In both cases it worked, but the lag makes it impractical: With VNC the image barely updates once a second, whereas with VLC streaming I have a constant FPS but the image is several seconds behind due to buffering. I want to use this for gaming, and my hope was to have full and instant screen mirroring at 60FPS... obviously that's only achievable over USB cable, or maybe miraculously over Bluetooth. So my question remains open.
 
Old 06-17-2016, 08:23 AM   #3
MirceaKitsune
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I believe I know how I want to do this now: I'll try using VLC or ffmpeg to stream my screen through a http stream... but with a buffer time of under 200ms, which should be sustainable via local WIFI. I will then play the stream on the Android device, using a web player that supports looking into the video with the gyroscope (there are a few on Google Play)... meaning I can locally emulate the VR component, at the expense of being unable to see the entire image at once.

This is a perfect technique, since the gyroscope is seriously not usable as an input device in any normal PC game. I can still control the real view with the mouse, but look into that view from the Android side! If all goes well this this should allow for Oculus Rift equivalent PC gaming, with minimal lag and quality loss. I shall see how far I get though.
 
  


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