Everything has been going smoothly over the past few weeks. Our improvements always come from three fronts: camera software, position calculation by the gateway and of course the tag software and hardware. Today we would like to discuss the later, and how one of the test and new improvements we tested worked surprisingly well.
We never had the chance to have a proper room with high ceilings and so most of our tests came from rooms where the ceilings were at 2.5m. Our current tags are optimized for rooms with higher ceilings, from 3.5m to 4m high. We always wanted a way to make our system work on a sub-optimal room.
Let’s talk about the tag, it is essentially a small circuit that sends infrared signals that allows the cameras to see it. The half-sphere on the top serves as a diffusor, allowing for a better communication. Yet, if the camera cannot see this half-sphere, the tag is not tracked.
This causes a few problems; the height of the ceilings plays a huge role. If they are at 4m of height, the camera can easily see over anyone, and if they tilt their heads back and forward, the half-sphere should always be seen by the cameras. Yet, if the ceilings are low, it is hard for the tag to be seen. By simply bending over a little bit, you head gets in the way and causes occlusion.
A second problem caused by the current design of the tag is that the LEDs are located inside the tag. With that being said, the 3D printed base blocks half the signal, an optimal design would have a complete sphere sending the signal. With the signals being sent upwards, cameras placed at a lower height could have difficulty seeing the dome.
This new design is intended for rooms with lower ceilings, arcades and experiences in a room with higher ceilings could very well use the other tag with no issue.
Changing the hardware is always harder and takes more time than changing and improving the software and algorithms. But, we are more than glad we tested this new design, as iit works better in our test room than the previous.
How is the new tag different? Well, after changing some of the core software inside we decided to look at the hardware. The design and pieces were not optimized for what we wanted to do. Originally the tag contained two LEDs that sent infrared signals. We took that and double it. This way the tag can send its signal in all four directions at the same time, instead of only signaling upwards. This will in turn cover a wider angle, while avoiding any occlusion that might be caused by the player.
We also got rid of the dome, instead trying to put it in a sort of fishing rod, much like this fish:
This is not a final design, but we are working hard to find the best possible design that we can, that would work best with most headsets. There is not much more that we changed, the design allowed the tracking to be a lot more consistent on ceilings that are lower than the recommended 4 meters. Check out the video for more information and a hands-on test that we did, with the old and new tag.