Motion tracking hardware's pretty fantastic, and I've no doubt that it's going to play a pivotal role in the future of gaming (particularly where virtual reality is concerned). Of course, it's a technology that most certainly isn't without its problems. Most motion control peripherals feature some degree of input lag; those that don't are usually expensive beyond belief. Thanks to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Human Computer Interaction Institute and Disney Research Pittsburg, this may well change.
Together, researchers from the two institutions have developed a technology known as Lumitrack. This motion peripheral could well be just what motion tracking hardware's been waiting for. According to the developers, it's extremely precise, almost lag-free, and, most importantly, incredibly inexpensive.
"What Lumitrack brings to the table is, first, low latency," explained Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. student Robert Xiao. "Motion tracking has added a compelling dimension to popular game systems, but there's always a lag between the player's movements and the movements of the avatar in the game. Lumitrack is substantially faster than these consumer systems, with near real-time response."
Further, continued Xiao, Lumitrack is extremely precise, with 'sub-millimeter accuracy.' This performance is achieved at a considerably lower cost than most other peripherals on the market, and Lumitrack's low power draw means it might even be integrated into mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.
See, although Xiao and his collaborators initially targeted gaming with the technology, they believe its potential extends far beyond the games industry. The development of CGI, for example, has traditionally used highly expensive, extremely precise systems to track an actors' movements. Lumitrack could serve as a low-cost alternative to some of these systems, making the process less expensive (and more accessible) for filmmakers.
"We think the core technology is potentially transformative and that you could think of many more things to do with it besides games," noted Disney Research Pittsburgh's Ivan Poupyrev.
Lumitrack consists of two components: projectors and sensors.The projectors emit a structured pattern - apparently it looks something like an overlarge barcode - onto the person or object being tracked. This pattern is known as a binary-m sequence; the bars represent a series of bits arranged into sequences of seven. Each sequence appears only once, allowing the device to quickly and accurately detect both the location and motion of its target.
The researchers behind Lumitrack include Xiao and Poupyrev along with Professor of Human-Computer Interaction Scott Andrews,HCII Ph.D. graduate Chris Harrison, and Karl Willis. The team recently presented its findings at the Association for Computing Machinery's Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology.
Those of you interested in learning more about the Lumitrack can check out Chris Harrison's website,where you'll find a downloadable PDF with more in-depth information.