I Kicked A Dinosaur in The Face Using Vive’s Full Body Tracking

by Jamie Feltham • February 27th, 2017

The scale for awesome things you can do in VR keeps increasing. First, I could see a dinosaur as if it were really there as it walked towards me, perhaps sniffing right in front of me as he pondered a potential meal. Then I could punch dinosaurs with position-tracked controls, realistically defending myself should they choose to attack. Now? I can kick dinosaurs. In the face. And it’s awesome.

A month ago we saw developer Cloudgate Studio experiment with full-body tracking on the HTC Vive, using two controllers for hands and another two strapped to your feet. The result was a surprisingly accurate approximation of your full body inside VR. At the time the developer noted that it would implement the Vive’s new Tracker peripheral, switching out the controllers on the feet, as soon as it possible. Well, now it’s done that and it looks something like this.

Vive Trackers full body

A build of Cloudgate’s Island 359 was on display at this year’s Mobile World Congress using these two makeshift add-ons, which hooked under the laces in my shoes. A belt with another tracker tied around it went around my waist, something the developers said it would implement in last month’s video for a touch more accuracy.

As the game booted up I was instructed to stand with my feet in some green outlines, with a mirror in front of me. Once I was alligned I saw the floating hands and feet transform into a full avatar in seconds, with no other calibration needed. The first time I did this I ended up with strange, elongated gorilla arms (I don’t think I was holding my hands in the right place), but the second time it worked much better. I could look down and see my body, and my arms would follow my hands — for the most part — in a realistic fashion.

There were the expected occasional glitches, with arms getting out of sync, but Cloudgate has only had the Trackers for a few weeks and with a consumer roll out of Vive Trackers not happening until later this year it’s got plenty of time to iron it out even more.

Actually playing Island 359 with this tracking was a lot of fun. In last month’s video we saw the developer kick items over. Here, I was lashing out at dinosaurs with my feet and sending them flying. Smaller dinosaurs would run up to me, and I’d stomp down on them, killing them instantly (yes, there was a guilty pleasure to it). For larger dinosaurs I’d sweep my leg into them. The tracking might have been a little glitchy, but it didn’t fail me.

As I continued to play I got a little more confident with what the tracking could do. I was attacked from behind and instead of turning around to deal with the problem I simply kicked my leg backwards, then turned to find an enemy crumbled on the floor. It made the game’s action more versatile and liberating than it already was.

The key to this small breakthrough is giving players options. At $99.99, not every Vive owner is going to buy a tracker, let alone three or more of them. But Cloudgate’s work isn’t essential to the Island 359 experience, it’s additive. It’s already playable with just your two regular Vive controllers, this just makes it that bit more immersive.

But sharing this work and letting other developers implement it into their own games could create a scalable VR experience that doesn’t fragment the user-base because it does’t leave anyone out.

We’re still some months from finding out just how big of an impact this use of Vive’s Trackers will be, but I’m willing to bet a lot of enthusiasts will be ordering at least three units when it finally starts to roll out.

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  • NooYawker

    On this point I’ll wait for next gen when they’re smaller and cheaper. But this is a huge step forward in VR tracking.

  • Doctor Bambi

    So exciting to see full body tracking start to emerge. I’d love to try a walking in place type locomotion system with feet trackers like this. It would be cool if HTC ended up releasing a bundle pack that came with 3 at a discounted price, as that does seem like a sweet spot that’ll cover most needs and give you access to “full body tracking”.

    • DougP

      Re: “3 at a discounted price” / “sweet spot”

      Think you’re right about that.
      The work demonstrated recently from IKinema (sp?) using reverse kinematics to interpret body positioning/movement is amazing.

    • dogtato

      Could use a couple more to attach to various hand-held controllers, and with HTC shipping costs it’s better to have one too many even at $100 each.

  • jimrp

    Now this is what we all have been wanting. 🤗

  • jimrp

    Oculus needs to step up there game.

    • DougP

      “step up” – I see what you did there. 😉

    • xebat

      What they need is just adopt the Lighthouse tracking system. This is coming from me a hardcore Rift user from the first day. If they don’t choose Lighthouse for their next iteration of their PC HMD, Oculus can f#ck off.

    • Scott C

      I’m honestly expecting an announcement (sometime in the next 6 months to maybe a year) that they’re working with the camera sensors to pick up skeletal position data without $100 sensor add-ons.

      If they can get the image processing down, we could be looking at a firmware or driver update that gives pretty decent fidelity. Consider what the Kinect was doing seven years ago, and that’s honestly good enough for some compelling immersion.

      • jimrp

        Yeah but since i dont believe in FB. Thoughts. I just can not post.wifi is weak my ass. Political byass.

      • random_name

        Hey, that’s something I didn’t think about. I really hope that is the case. Be really cool to see.

  • daveinpublic

    Wow! I don’t own any VR headsets, maybe if I had more money saved, but because there’s not that many must have games, I haven’t taken the plunge. Still, it’s incredibly exciting to know that this is being developed, because one day I’m going to plunk down the cash, and then I can thank all the companies that have been working tirelessly for years knowing people like me will be interested in it one day. And then I’ll thank all the gamers who funded this through the early days. This is going to be epic in just a few years time.

  • Totally Magical Unicorn

    This is great. Really looking forward to these trackers.

  • At Immotionar we do full body VR with kinects and we confirm that is awesome. With tracker you have the problem that you have to wear them (it’s boring), but you have more precision.

  • unreal_ed

    *kicks dinosaur* Stupid girl…