Before we talk about Body tracking, with the conclusion of the Startup Fest that happened last week in Montreal we finally get a chance to focus once again on our system. We met a lot of great people and got a chance to talk to other VR start-ups about the challenges and what we should expect in the VR market for the upcoming months.
Today we would like to discuss something different. It is more than an idea as we have a prototype ready and some of you may have seen the video that Jules posted in Twitter earlier last week. Most importantly we would love to address some real issues and concerns with VR.
Staying true to our name our biggest issues involve tracking. Just like most systems, we struggle with occlusion. There are some things that you cannot track since most of the time cameras have a hard time tracking certain body parts that are often hidden, unlike the top of our heads for instance. It would be hard putting a tracker in the middle of your chest as if you turned around the cameras would no longer see you. We can only have so many cameras in a room as well, so we must find ways around occlusion.
In a perfect world, we would want to have flawless tracking, where occlusion was not a factor, and where the tracker was always seen. But our cameras are not Superman’s eyes. We also want to make this system simple to use, effective and above all, affordable. Perhaps the biggest selling point of our system is the price-point. It is a perfect way to play around with new technology as well as create amazing and immersive multiplayer experiences. But we want more. Simply having 2 trackers for a whole body is not enough. Having one on your head and one in your gun or controller is cool, but we want to track more. We want to track your whole body, without the need for a suit, or expensive hardware.
Body tracking is tricky. No wonder Optitrack charges a fortune. They must, the technology is expensive. But what if it wasn’t? Tracking body parts with our trackers is possible. As we have showed last week in our twitter post. What most of you probably didn’t notice was that the trackers were not actually seen by any cameras. They communicated by wi-fi with the gateway, and that was it. But if they are not seen they will end up drifting. The biggest challenge in body tracking remains, occlusion is a huge issue. It is the main reason you see suits and headsets with multiple passive trackers. Because there are always a certain number of trackers that must be seen for the body to move and for the cameras to understand how the body is moving.
Using active tracking technology, we can basically do more, with less trackers. Another thing is that they can easily be placed on objects you would like to track. The fact that they are active also means that they can be used as controller themselves. We have designed the trackers with GPIO ports, to quickly transform them into new controllers, with multiple possible functionalities.Moreover, using their 9DOF IMU, you can receive orientation and acceleration data whether when they are seen or not. If we had to sum our trackers in one word, it would be versatile, it is much more than what it seems.
What does this mean?
Let’s go back to body tracking. We know that these trackers are active, inexpensive and can send messages without been seen. Our trackers can track a body. If we decide to place them on specific body parts, or our different axes, two for each arm, hands, feet, they will respond and you will be able to see that body part. Occlusion remains. However, as an active tracker, we were able to adapt the system to send information regardless if a camera saw that body part, completely overcoming this huge issue. When the trackers are seen, they are able to be perfectly tracked. When they are not, they can still send messages of how they are moving. This also allows us to keep the drift minimal.
Our timeline remains the same. We want to deliver our final version by the end of the summer. Yet, this new stepping stone could greatly please our customers and the VR community. Thus, we are working on implementing and testing this as quickly as possible. It will be a great add-on to our system, and really put our system with other great tracking systems. Stay tuned as we announce more news as we develop, we cannot wait to put all of this in practice and allow people to track anything they want to track.