New technologies are emerging in all areas of our daily life. Due to the quick evolution of hardware components, new systems are appearing in the area of Computer Science, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. In this area, one of the most interesting developments are in the area of Motion Tracking Systems.
Motion Tracking, also known as motion capture is the process of following, controlling or recording the movement (rotation and translation) of an object inside a specific space. The objects to be tracked could be whatever element inside a real space including people. In the case of tracking people, the information retrieved is normally used to animate realistically virtual characters inside Virtual or Augmented Reality applications. Motion tracking is used in very wide areas such as: films, entertainment, medicine, sports, military, robotics and much more.
In previous posts we talked about the different systems available for motion tracking, including the analysis of Electromagnetic, Optical or Inertial Motion tracking, the EM Motion Tracking system and how it works and the possibilities of this EM Motion Tracking systems inside Unity.
In the area of EM Motion Tracking, Amfitech and Premo released the first demo kit to integrate Motion Tracking capabilities in a very easy and quick way. This kit, available in the Premo website, is an embedded stand-alone, high precision and low-cost 3D tracking system. The kit allows to control the movement of an object inside your projects or applications. For that, the system gives the position of the object in 3D, outputting the absolute position (XYZ) and rotation (pitch/yaw/roll) of the system components in respect to each other, making it a so-called true six degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking system. Its principal advantages are the full six degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking, easy installation, high precision, low cost system components and no line-of sight issue, which is the main important difference compared with optical tracking systems.
This demo kit, in its first version, includes:
– 1 source controller (ATSC1)
– 1 medium range source (Premo 3DCC28-A-0039J)
– 3 sensors (ATS1, with Premo 3DV15 inside)
– 1 wireless receiver hub (ATWR1)
– 2 USB cables
– 1 USB power supply (5V/1A)
– 1 suitcase with special foam insertion
– Demo software (AmfiTrack Viewer), Getting started video, USB protocol
Components of the demo kit.
Due to the improvements on the Electromagnetic Tracking Sensors and Hardware, recently they have released a new generation of this kit, called Generation 2.0 of the EM Motion Tracking System. Behind this development are the companies Amfitech and Premo, responsible for its development, manufacturing and selling.
On the one side, Amfitech is an engineering consultant company founded in 1999 in Denmark, created by Lego engineers (the inventors of Mindstorms). They are experts on EMF tracking, innovation and product development, with more than 14 engineers with 19 years of experience.
On the other side, PREMO is a Spain-based company engaged in the development, manufacture, and sale of electronic components with a special focus on the key enabling technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution: IoT, M2M, VR, Connected and Electric Vehicles. With more than 1500 employees and 50 years of experience, Premo is well-positioned to continue to be a world leader in magnetic components for many years to come.
Example of Premo components used for motion tracking.
In this association, and after the success of the first version of the EM Motion Tracking kit, the development of this new generation of motion tracking hardware tries to bring improvements in performance and use.
The system includes several hardware and firmware updates:
- Bootloader. The users will be able to install updates of the system firmware by themselves. Amfitech will be releasing new firmware updates which can be uploaded without having to return the kits for service.
- IMU hardware unit. This new sensor is now included in the receiver sensor hardware. This opens the possibility to implement sensor fusion algorithms for improved motion tracking performance.
- Start-up calibration additional hardware. This improved assembly includes a set of components specially developed so that a start-up calibration procedure by the user is not required. The system will be able to perform self-calibration on start-up. For this self-calibration it is necessary to place the sensor in approximately 30-40 cm away from the EMF source in X-axis and 20-30 cm up from the source plane in Z-axis.
More information about the calibration can be found in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9ALvqmkmaM
- Emitter source capacitor bank and multiplexor. The emitter source will have the possibility to be configured from the software console. Setup includes the frequency selection for each axis. Additionally, it will be possible to implement self-selection of frequencies in the firmware, for multiple-emitter configuration scenarios.
- Special receiver 3DCoil driver schematic. This new hardware allows real-time compensation of the cross-talk effects on the receiver 3DCoil sensor. Manufacturing tolerance deviation on three-windings sensors will be compensated by this system, improving overall performance.
- Modulator/Demodulator hardware. This new addition to the circuit will allow data communication over the B-field transmission.
This new version is a complete hardware kit that includes:
- EMF Source driver: The EMF Source driver is a piece of hardware that drives the EMF Source coil. It is powered by 5V through USB port or by using the 5V USB wall plug-in adaptor supplied with the system. Communication with EMF sensors and USB RF hub is done using 2.4GHz proprietary RF link.
- EMF Source 3D coil: Emits the EM field.
- EMF sensors: The wireless EMF sensors pick up the EM field and calculate their position (6DOF) from the EMF source. Communicating with EMF Source driver and USB RF hub is done using 2.4GHz proprietary RF link. Sensors can be supplied with or without Kalman filter.
- USB RF Hub: The USB RF Hub picks up the 2.4GHz RF link communication between the EMF Source driver and EMF sensors, and relays the system positioning data through its USB port. Please note: The USB RF Hub is only needed to present positioning data from the wireless sensors on a PC. All positioning calculations are done by a microcontroller embedded in the EMF sensors.
- Plug-in 5V USB PSU: The Plug-in 5V USB PSU can be used for powering the EMF Source driver and also for charging the EMF sensors.
- Plug-in 5V USB adaptors: The interchangeable power supply adaptors allows the Plug-in PSU to be used with country specific wall outlets.
This kit allows to run a system with one single 3D magnetic field source (connected to power supply) and three individual battery-powered wireless sensors. Each sensor has a 3D magnetic field receiver and a high frequency link to the USB receiver hub. The receiver hub translates the position and orientation data from each sensor to the laptop software. All the calculations are being made in the stand-alone wireless sensors. Laptop software only shows 3D information on screen, not being involved in the 3D calculation algorithm.
The new kit is already available for purchase on PREMO’s online marketplace, and also through the PREMO Sales Network of representatives and distributors worldwide. Gen-2 kit can be ordered through the following website:
https://www.grupopremo.com/713-vr-demo-kit-gen-2A. Special discount will be applied to Universities and Research Centres.
A complete software package including Amfitrack Viewer Software, .NET dll library for Unity integration and further details can be found here:
In it possible to know more about this Generation 2.0 of the kit. In youtube thre are several videos available where real-time performance of the Generation 2.0 system is shown:
AmfiTrack VR application demo:
AmfiTrack 4 pcs Gen2 sensors in mating application:
With this new kit it is possible to develop motion tracking in a very easy and quick way, with all the components necessary to get an EM tracking, self-calibration for correct functioning without the need for experience in the area and Unity integration which gives a powerful support for the development of application that make use of the information coming from the capture system. If you want to know more about our Unity integration, you can follow the link in the image: