Electromagnetic 3D Motion-tracker Uses Nordic Technology
Dec 11, 2013
Oslo, Norway 2013/12/11 - Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA (OSE: NOD) today announces that virtual reality specialist, Sixense, has specified the Nordic nRF51822 and nRF24LU1+ in its latest PC gaming-targeted 3D ‘STEM System’ – to be demonstrated at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at Las Vegas in January – to supply the wireless link between up to five (nRF51822) electromagnetic avatar tracking or controller modules (e.g. head, hands, and both feet for full body avatars) and an 8-foot (2.4m) electromagnetic field-generating base charging station (nRF51822). Each module communicates its position and orientation every 4milliseconds (ms) to a USB dongle (nRF24LU1+) that plugs into a host PC and runs the Nordic Gazell 2.4GHz proprietary RF protocol stack.
The leading-edge of gaming remains dominated by PCs and games designed to make full use of their enhanced and continually upgradeable hardware (processors, memory, and graphics) compared to consoles.
By employing Nordic ULP 2.4GHz transceivers with their class-leading price/performance ratio, the system’s price point meets mass-market PC gaming requirements with a responsiveness that Sixense says completely outclasses accelerometer- and camera-based motion controllers. The STEM System is also modular, allowing users to add further controllers, trackers, and other game-specific peripherals as and when they want to, and based on an open-platform architecture targeting third-party hardware and game developers.
“Virtual reality is the hot button topic in gaming right now due to the emergence of low cost virtual-reality headsets,” comments Sixense VP of Marketing, Steve Nguyen.
According to Sixense, the fundamental advantage of the STEM System over other motion-based wireless controllers is that it employs an electromagnetic field to provide highly precise position and orientation tracking with complete fidelity and precision down to the nearest 1mm (position) and degree (orientation) and, thanks to the Nordic Semiconductor 2.4GHz wireless link, all available for use by the end application in less than 10ms.
“The sense of reality is uninterrupted when users interact with the game through the STEM System’s two-handed motion tracking controllers. Our magnetic technology knows exactly where each tracking point is located and how it’s oriented at all times relative to the STEM Base,” continues Nguyen. “This includes both X-Y-Z position and pitch-roll-yaw orientation. The end result is a controller that offers a finesse and fidelity that accelerometer-based systems simply do not and cannot possess, with no shadowing or drift.
"And in gaming that’s the difference between instructing a character to do something limited and pre-defined, and actually being an avatar of that character who can, for example, uses a sword and shield in different directions with different hands, or has a tai-chi, yoga, or dance lesson with accurate ‘hands-on’ coaching adjustments to feet, hand, and head position.”
Nguyen concludes: “We couldn’t have achieved the STEM System’s level of responsiveness without the underlying physical RF performance and reliability of the Nordic radios. Nordic allowed us to carefully fine tune the Nordic-supplied proprietary Gazell software protocol in order to minimize latency and maximize performance, while ensuring the critical data link performance was maintained.”
“We invest considerable resources into R&D to ensure Nordic’s 2.4GHz ULP solutions offer class-leading performance at a pricing point that supports mass-market products that consumers can afford,” says Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's Director of Sales & Marketing. “Gaming is no exception and it’s great to see a leading-edge, application of our wireless technology where every extra millisecond of low-latency performance really does count.”
Sixense is currently developing a 3D modeling application for 3D printing called 'MakeVR' that combines an intuitive and natural 3D modeling environment with the STEM System. The company is also collaborating with major game publishers and developers to take advantage of its STEM System motion tracking platform.
Symmetry Electronics (and its e-commerce division: SemiconductorStore.com) is an authorized Nordic Semiconductor distributor.