The positional tracking of mobile virtual reality headsets is a difficult problem.
It is so difficult, in fact, that Oculus’ own genius-in-residence, John Carmack, has personally devoted himself to solving the puzzle. Carmack may have a bit more free time on his hands soon, however, as a new startup is claiming to have built a simple sensor that is capable of providing positional tracking for mobile VR.
VicoVR is launching a $75,000 IndieGoGo campaign today for a VR sensor that may finally allow mobile HMDs to be positionally tracked.
According to the campaign’s page, VicoVR is a, “Bluetooth accessory that provides wireless motion tracking capabilities to Android and iOS ecosystems…When wirelessly paired with Mobile VR headsets such as Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard, VicoVR enables HMD Positional Tracking and Full Body Tracking capabilities.”
VicoVR functions through the use of a “proprietary 3D vision based processing unit.”
This unit uses an outside-in tracking system that, “detects precise 3D coordinates of 19 body joints for each user presented in Field-of-View of the sensor. This data is then sent wirelessly – with minimal latency – to any Android or iOS HMD.”
The sensor will come preloaded with ten experiences and will also ship with both hand and feet tracking capabilities. VicoVR’s Dmitry Morozov reached out to UploadVR via email to shine some additional light onto this intriguing new product.
UploadVR: Why build something like this sensor?
Morozov: We started five years ago with the idea to bring 3D gesture recognition technology to emerging computer platforms. By assembling a brilliant team of computer vision engineers, we created a state of the art 3D body tracking software. It happened just in time for the emergence of the Mobile VR market.
UploadVR: What makes VicoVR superior to other mobile positional tracking solutions?
Morozov: There are several advantages of the “outside-in” tracking approach that we use:
- It allows us to track “full body” (19 body joints), not just two hands.
- We are also capable of capturing a real time point cloud of a person in front of VicoVR that we can wirelessly send to the Mobile headset.
- By doing all of the processing inside VicoVR all of these great features consumes no processing power of the mobile headset itself.
Of course, the accuracy of positional tracking the HMD is currently lagging behind the accuracy of something like the HTC Vive. But we constantly work to improve perceived accuracy and those improvements will be available via firmware updates, without the need to replace sensor hardware.
UploadVR: If this campaign is successful, when would you be releasing the product?
Morozov: Development kits for Android are available now. For the final version we expect to ship it to backers at the end of 2016.
VicoVR will be accepting donations for its IndieGoGo campaign until it closes on June 17.