Watch: IKinema’s HTC Vive Powered Full Body Motion Capture System is Impressive

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Motion capture specialist IKinema has demonstrated its new in-development low-cost motion capture system which uses use 6 points of SteamVR tracking points to deliver a pretty accurate recreation of real world motion.

The potential diversity of uses for Valve’s SteamVR tracking system Lighthouse is something we’ve pondered before, especially with the company recently opening up licensing for the technology for use in potentially any device. Now a company has used the laser based tracking solution as the core of its new low cost motion capture solution.

This is Project Orion from UK based motion capture specialists IKinema. The in-development solution uses just 6 points of SteamVR tracking, and has the subject in question strap HTC Vive controllers to themselves. The setup demonstrated has one SteamVR controller per foot one, at the base of the back as well as (somewhat more conventionally) two handheld units, with the 6th unit strapped to the head. All of this is tracked with the standard 2 lighthouse laser base stations.

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As noted on the video above, IKinema says it’s achieved the above levels of impressive accuracy with no post production – what you’re seeing is captured and rendered in real time. What’s more, it’s not as if the subject of the film is going particularly easy on the capture system, with sideways rolls and even a couple of chimpanzee impressions thrown into the presentation. Project Orion looks to be using inverse kinematics (systems which interpret realistic motion using skeletal structure) to ‘fill in’ the blanks between tracking points and considering how many blanks there are when compared to a more traditional, industry-focused Mo-Cap setup, Orion does remarkably well.

We’ll be interested to see where IKinema take Project Orion in the future, whether it’ll be another licensee to Valve’s open Lighthouse tracking initiative with a hardware solution of its own for example.

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  • RoJoyInc

    WOW could easily track metrics for exercising.

    • You could go to a Multiplayer VR gym and work out with a trainer :) and others in the room, correcting your technique etc :D

  • Joan Villora Jofré

    Awesome

    • When they sweat, they shall know :)

  • Zerofool

    Wow, looks amazing for only 6 trackers.
    Now just imagine adding 4 more (for elbows and knees) and it would be the ultimate solution for full body tracking in VR. I mean, it looks great with only 6 in 3rd person view, but I can imagine there’s some inaccuracy when experienced in 1st person (especially in the elbow/shoulders area) which could degrade the experience, rather than enhance it.
    This imaginary 10-sensor setup combined with the upcoming “knuckle” SteamVR controllers… I can’t imagine needing anything else for body presence in gaming scenarios. I hope HTC (or other partners of Valve) offer this as an optional bundle for future HMDs (the HMD+controllers kit +7 additional trackers, and the basestations ofc) at a compelling price. That way VR game devs will have a decent install base to cater to and it would be an easier decision to add support for this.
    I know it’s primarily targeting motion capture for professional purposes, but I’m sure it would be great for VR gaming/social as well, when the price of the extra trackers is low enough.

  • DiGiCT Ltd

    It shows clearly how well the lighthouse tracking works and that it easy can track multiple items at a time.

  • psuedonymous

    A good starting point, but without (at a minimum) upper-arm and thigh tracking points, there’s a LOT of pose ambiguity remaining. It’s an excellent IK setup for basic other-pose tracking (you want to track a person moving around and have someone else look at them), but not yet suitable for self-pose tracking (too easy to deviate from real pose). For example, hand+foot+hip tracking cannot detect shoulder shrugs or ‘chicken winging’ movements, and cannot detect thigh rotation (knees-in or knees-out). Upper-arms are the bugger issue: sit on a chair in front of a table, and grab the table edge with both hands. This immobilises your hips and hands, the points that would be tracked. Now, move your arms about. You can get an enormous range of motion, and none of this would be tracked. For general use, it might even be preferable to omit the foot tracker and move them to the upper arms, if a limited number of tracked points is an issue.

  • That looks amazing. For 3D animators, costly motion capture studios will be less of a requirement as 6 point tracking gets 95% of the work done for you, hell of a lot faster than manual keying. Social VR and gaming would get much more immersive too.

  • Foreign Devil

    7 or 8 years ago an animation studio I was working for tried to setup a an inexpensive tracking system to save money on animation. . .I’m sure the tracking system cost several thousand. . . The results were so shaky and innacurate that by the end of the project pretty much all the motion capture was discarded and replaced with keyframe animation…. If we had this kind of accurate low cost motion capture. . it would certainly have saved the project.

  • They did an amazing job…

  • Muddy

    Open sourcing their tracking tech is already driving innovation. That’s the way Valve!

  • Joe

    Why do these demos never have real dancers or martial arts. Because these demos would fall apart!

  • Matt R

    Ikinema’s IK system has a plugin for unreal engine and I think unity. So this could be your realtime avatar in game. That would be so cool. I don’t see constellation tracking doing this.

    • burzum

      I think technically it could. All you need to do is to attach a strap of IR-LED lights, just like the one built into the touch controllers, to whatever you want. The real issue here is that Oculus promised to be free and open but now are the most closed and less innovative company. :( I don’t regret that I bought a Rift and I like the touch controllers ergonomic a lot more than the Vive controllers but I regret that I trusted Oculus. My next 2nd generation HMD is very likely a Vive or something else except Oculus comes up with some *really* good arguments to trust them again.

  • VRgameDevGirl

    I need this!!!!!

  • sorieil

    good!!

  • Jp

    Is there a reason why these types of articles never talk about computer power that is needed? Why not include the computer specs?

    • Toffotin

      I can’t imagine this having any special requirements. If your computer can run any VR application, it can run this.

  • Get Schwifty!

    This is awesome and makes a lot more sense to me than sticking Lighthouse trackers on toy guns, golf clubs and things in general. Not that there isn’t a place for it, but that application seems more for the VR arcades HTC is trying to get going.

    • And tea bagging an enemy in FPS. Oh the fun.

  • Toffotin

    Achieving results that good with just 5 tracking points is just amazing.
    I would like to see some finer movement with things it’s not directly tracking though. Like what does it look like if you just move your shoulders or hips and try to keep everything else really still?
    Anyways, it seems like this is definitely good enough most uses. Production quality mocap… Well, almost. I’m a game developer in a medium sized indie studio and we use Optitrack mocap system. I’d say this looks almost as good.

  • Michiel Celis

    This is very impressive. Considering how little tracking points that are being used… A class example of inverse kinematics done right!

  • OgreTactics

    Neat solution with “on-the-bestbuy-shelves” devices: literally straping Vive pans and Steam controller to your body. This means you can mocap with anything that is trackable by the Lighthouses.

  • RationalThought

    I love my Rift and touch but have to admit the Lighthouse system is so much more elegant a design than the Constellation system. I wish I could use that with my Oculus but keep my Touch Controllers and Oculus headset. I know this is a wish that is technically not possible buuuuuuut doesn’t stop me from wishing.

  • Baconmon

    Make sure it works with Linux and Blender!!!

  • Joel Dittrich

    Impressive!