A new SteamVR mod from the developer behind WalkinVR now allows body tracking by emulating Vive Trackers via Kinect’s motion sensing data, enabling an inexpensive solution for full body motion tracking in VR. The driver, available at the official Driver4VR site, works for both Rift and Vive when running SteamVR; this could be particularly interesting for Rift users, as Oculus currently offer no ‘Vive Tracker’ equivalent.

Since the launch of the Vive Tracker earlier this year, impressive full-body motion capture has been demonstrated through the use of three Tracker units, in combination with the two tracked controllers and headset. But at $99 each, this is another expensive upgrade for VR gamers; only a small selection of VR titles have enabled full-body functionality, such as Tornufallo, The Path of Greatest Resistance and Climbey.

Driver4VR’s emulation of three Trackers using a single Kinect makes for a much more affordable solution for both Vive and Rift users. Microsoft’s hardware is easily the most widely spread and inexpensive full-body tracker on the market (now priced at just $45 [Amazon], plus $40 for the PC adapter [Amazon]), and has proven to be an invaluable tool for many developers experimenting with VR.

This is the second project from Grzegorz Bednarski, the developer behind the WalkinVR driver for people with physical disabilities. As shown in the setup video above, the Driver4VR installation is simple, with calibration steps to align the virtual trackers to Kinect data. While there are apparently no problems with Oculus’ ‘constellation’ tracking, the Kinect’s infrared projector can interfere with the Vive’s tracking—particularly the newer ‘Kinect 2.0’ model for Xbox One. Some users are finding success with both models, but the developer recommends Vive users use the original Kinect [Amazon] (rather unfortunate as Kinect 2.0 is more accurate).

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For now, Driver4VR has some limitations, as it only works effectively when facing directly towards the Kinect sensor, and the accuracy is significantly lower than using real Vive Trackers. Bednarski has plans to improve the tracking quality, and is testing the feasibility of using wearable LED bands to increase the precision, as well as using two Kinects for 360 tracking.

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The trial version of Microsoft’s Monster Truck Madness probably had something to do with it. And certainly the original Super Mario Kart and Gran Turismo. A car nut from an early age, Dominic was always drawn to racing games above all other genres. Now a seasoned driving simulation enthusiast, and former editor of Sim Racer magazine, Dominic has followed virtual reality developments with keen interest, as cockpit-based simulation is a perfect match for the technology. Conditions could hardly be more ideal, a scientist once said. Writing about simulators lead him to Road to VR, whose broad coverage of the industry revealed the bigger picture and limitless potential of the medium. Passionate about technology and a lifelong PC gamer, Dominic suffers from the ‘tweak for days’ PC gaming condition, where he plays the same section over and over at every possible combination of visual settings to find the right balance between fidelity and performance. Based within The Fens of Lincolnshire (it’s very flat), Dominic can sometimes be found marvelling at the real world’s ‘draw distance’, wishing virtual technologies would catch up.
  • I skimmed the video to the end to see body tracking and it did not look great to be honest. The feet left the legs, hands were shaking and the pelvis shifted height while the legs remained the same height, that should not happen. Maybe the IK was messed up?

    With Vive / Rift you already have very accurate hand and head tracking with positional tracking too so would it not make more sense for this to only track lower body foot + knee joints and blend that with the existing tracking to create a more accurate full body representation?

  • He’s doing a great job and I appreaciate a lot his products, but I wonder why when we at Immotionar released full body tracking Virtual Reality using Kinects for all headsets with 360-degrees avateering, no one gave us all this attention.

    Rant apart, Kinect is cheap but has low FPS and quite bad accuracy if compared to Oculus Touch of Vive controller. Furthermore from my startup experience, most people do not want to buy kinects just to play VR. If they already have one, they love the product, though.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Maybe due to the commercial nature that you didn’t get that much attention. this one is completely free.

      And in regard to Kinect, yes not a lot of people will buy a Kinect just to be able to use it for VR, but enthousiasts propably have them laying around anyway. And if it really gets better, than it’s quite possible that people will buy one for cheap. Just look at the LeapMotion, when it shipped it was practically useless, but now with the latest software it is actually quite good, and that’s still with the old hardware, you’ll wonder what will happen if they ship the new much improved hardware..

      • About the commercial nature you’re right, but I’m not talking about customers, I’m talking about journalists… this magazine, like others, was not interested in talking about us because didn’t find it interesting. I guess that it was too early maybe.

        Kinect isn’t updated since september 2014 and the Kinect team DOES NOT EXIST ANYMORE. And surely Microsoft won’t recreate it only for some enthusiasts. One of our plans was switching to another sensor called Orbbec, that is smaller than a Kinect and has similar performances. The problem is that its skeletal tracking is still not at Microsoft’s level, since MS has used more than 30000 people to train its neural network and this is impossible for a little company. Driver4VR could think about integrating it as well.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          Because the Kinect team doesn’t exist anymore doesn’t mean people can’t develop for the hardware.. Community based drivers (for other hardware) have been around for ages..

          • This was true for Kinect v1. Kinect v2 is super-closed. Unless Microsoft decides to open it, there is not the possibility to have a free driver. Furthermore, without that training power of Microsoft, even opening it would be useless, since there would be required a giant effort to create such an effective classifier.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    Cool, still have a Kinect (360) for windows doing nothing..

  • Skippy76

    Hmm, i see how terrible the kinect tracking is when the kids play with it. I want something much better than that!
    Plus, no games out there really support body tracking

  • Claus Sølvsten

    the kinect is still a great device and its a shame the tech was alittle ahead of its time maybe? like the leapmotion tech the sensors will find some other uses than first intended?
    I got both leapmotion and kinect just for the purpose of vr

  • Steve Chambers

    Vive is seriously missing the point, yeah the idea is cool but completely worthless as the vast majority of developers won’t it simply because there is no mass market adoption.
    I mean the PSVR holds over half the user base for high end VR so it’s reasonable to assume all the higher budget VR gaming apps will be designed with that in mind & not for gimmicky things like that.
    Add on tech like that is only for people who can’t stop themselves from buying things that are new or development/educational purposes.
    One day it could be standard but only when a generation of HMD comes out with the tracking system built in from the start to track full motion, it’ll also have to be inexpensive (relative to the field) & have mass market adoption.
    They should work on refining the current mass market control options as far as they go before they think of abandoning what people are using for something new in a desperate attempt to become no1.