What is the Vicon Tracker?

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The Vicon Tracker is a software system which is a product of the company Vicon. Vicon specializes in cutting-edge motion capture systems. This field integrates optics, AI image recognition, and 3D modeling to replicate real-life objects in a virtual environment.

About Motion Capture

Motion Capture is an optic technique that captures movement from video input and other sensors, be it applied to capturing objects or people. It has applications in many industries, including film entertainment, video game animation, robotics, military, sports, and medicine.

Most of the public will be familiar with motion capture used in animation. A real-life model acts out the scenes, which are captured and rendered to project the action onto an animated character. This saves a tremendous amount of work because the alternative is to rig and manipulate the 3D model manually, similar to how a puppet would work. Pure puppetry can be done, of course, but at a massive increase of labor and with less natural, choppy results. Nothing replicates the motion of a character like a real-life human.

Motion capture performers are a common sight in the pages of film industry literature. A performer will wear a specialized motion-capture suit, a full-body spandex jumpsuit with specific coloring and designs to enable the motion capture system to track movements. One early example of this technology in action was the 2000s film trilogy Lord of the Rings, where motion capture was used to animate the other-worldly character of Gollum.

About the Vicon Tracker

Tracker is a software product, aimed at engineering and robotics. It’s a 3D tracking system which takes in images from calibrated camera systems, reconstructing the scene into virtual space. Tracker’s features include:

  • Tracking for multiple objects
  • Single-camera tracking
  • Eye-movement tracking
  • Optimized data handling for precise and real-time rendering
  • Flexible integration and compatibility with other systems.

The latest version of the Vicon Tracker system, 3.7, introduces hybrid 2D/3D rigid body tracking with 6-axis function, support for both TCP and UDP connections, and improved speed.

Robotics control using the Vicon Tracker encompasses industries such as aerospace, vehicles, and manufacturing, with clients including Boeing, Airbus, Ford, BMW, UPENN, and NASA. On the entertainment end, Vicon systems used in film CGI has garnered Academy Awards.

Naturally, Tracker and other Vicon products emphasize both speed and accuracy. Motion capture is the science of replicating the quick responses and reflexes of a human brain, along with all the complex actions, so a motion capture system needs to be high-performance and fine-tuned.

Other Applications of Motion Capture

Motion capture technology has many other uses than mere entertainment. It can be used for controlling robot operators in environments not suited to humans, such as in undersea exploration, military battle-zones, law enforcement bomb squads, or factories with hazardous conditions.

In medicine, motion capture is frequently deployed to track movements. An otherwise immobilized patient can use eye movements to control a pointer on a computer screen, for instance. Motion capture is also used in the creation and operation of artificial limbs. Medical experts can even use motion capture to study a patient’s gait and feed the data into a biometrics system to analyze problems such as movement-limiting ailments. Similarly, in sports medicine, a player’s movements can be captured to be studied for performance analysis.

Finally, actions such as walking can be studied and replicated in robotics using motion capture. The typical method is to create an animation database, which breaks down movements and stores these fragments in an accessible software system for later retrieval. Motions such as a walk cycle or the act of pouring tea from a pot into a cup without spilling can be stored this way and later performed by a robotic agent whenever called for.

The Future For Motion Capture

While the perfection of motion capture technology will always be a cutting-edge field, new developments in the industry do eventually trickle down into the consumer market. For one example, a new generation of virtual YouTube performers called “vTubers” use scaled-down motion capture to animate an avatar of a Japanese-style idol, who is the performer the public sees.

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