Virtual reality looks set to become a lot more of a whole body experience thanks to new technology created by OptiTrack.
Demonstrated at the ‘computer graphic and interactive technique’ conference Siggraph, the devices attach to a user’s hands and feet so that their position can be tracked in space.
This is particularly useful if you are thinking about doing a VR arcade experience where you can move freely around a large space. OptiTrack already provides technical solutions for VR company The Void, which has worked on the Ghostbuster experience at Madame Tussauds in New York.
The tracking system looks like it works in a way very similar to the Vive Tracker by HTC Vive. By attaching the small plastic device to your wrists, the Vive system is able to track where your hands are in space.
Space to breathe
By the sounds of it, the main difference is the scale at which the OptiTrack system can work. Chief Strategy Officer Brian Niles said in an interview with Variety: “Oculus and Vive have both very good trackers — but they are limited to room-scale”.
The HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift both rely on sensors that can only gauge where you are in a space the approximate size of a living room. The OptiTrack sensors will be able to track a user in a setting 10,000 feet square. Think indoor VR paintball.
For a look at the kind of experiences that will potentially use this experience, check out the promo video for The Void's Ghostbuster experience below:
The trackers look like they're going to figure out your general location, and while being able to actually see and react to where your body is when you look down is a massive step forward, what we'd really love to see is tracking that allows you to use your hands in a VR space. Maybe we're getting ahead of ourselves.
As this technology is only just being displayed as a proof-of-concept we don't yet know when we're going to start seeing it in a local arcade, but as we hear more we'll let you know.
- Want to see some other devices trying to achieve the full-body VR experience? Check out: The problem with VR is that we’re stupid human meatsacks with too many senses
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Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.