Vicon Debuts Unbreakable Tracking for Multi-User VR

Vicon is taking the location-based virtual reality (LBVR) business model seriously, doubling down on efforts to be a leader in the space. The company already offers motion capture systems for commercial VR applications, but hasn't stopped from developing a dedicated LVBR solution and debut its new Origin tracking system at Siggraph 2018.

LBVR allows users to enjoy VR at brick-and-mortar locations (think arcades or movie theaters). Meanwhile, Vicon is one of the leading motion capture companies in the world. For over 35 years, it has provided solutions for the motion picture industry, and its technology is widely used in clinical laboratories and engineering research departments. Vicon has already adapted its existing motion capture solutions for LBVR installations such as Zero Latency’s warehouse-scale VR arcade and The Void’s fully immersive “4D” VR experiences. However, the company’s new technology offers “unbreakable tracking” and is said to be better-suited for multi-user experiences.

New Hardware

Vicon’s new Origin tracking solution is a four-part system, which includes the Viper tracking cameras, the Pulsar tracking clusters, the Beacon wireless synchronization system and a software suite called Evoke that brings it all together.

The Viper tracking camera is a compact, lightweight 2.2MP optical camera that captures at 240 frames per second. The new cameras are compatible with Vicon’s existing infrared tracking technology, but the company designed the new camera to track the company’s Pulsar tracking clusters, which feature active, illuminated tracking markers instead of the passive markers from the company’s older system.

Vicon’s Pulsar tracking clusters feature eight infrared bulbs which the Viper camera tracks to capture movement. The bulbs support adaptive, automated and customizable pattern options, which enables multiple users to use multiple Pulsar trackers. The Pulsar modules are small enough to mount easily to your arms or legs to provide full-body tracking options. You can also mount Pulsar trackers to accessories or environment objects.

Vicon’s Beacon module broadcasts a wireless signal that all other Origin devices can connect to for wireless synchronization.

Software Layer

Vicon’s Origin system isn’t complete without the company’s Evoke software that ties it all together. Evoke features System AutoHeal, which is an automated self-calibration system that analyzes the capture data from each session and applies corrections as necessary without human intervention.

Evoke also enables Vicon's so-called unbreakable tracking. Vicon’s Viper cameras track infrared signals that come from the Pulsar trackers, and the Evoke platform automatically infers user position when the sensors are occluded from the camera’s view. Vicon’s Evoke software also enables developers to use the position of body trackers to create fully tracked virtual avatars for their experiences.  

 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.