You’ve probably seen those behind-the-scenes videos of Hollywood motion-capture actors, dressed head to toe in green spandex and prancing around on green backgrounds, while a suite of cameras watches the movements of plastic balls attached to the actors’ joints. Well, that whole process may soon seem as ridiculous as the cartoon characters it’s often used to create.
A startup called Notch is challenging the idea that tracking 3D motion requires special stages and expensive equipment. Instead, for less than $400, the company offers a collection of wireless sensors that anyone can strap on to stream motion-capture data straight to a smartphone.
The basic kit includes six waterproof sensors, each containing a combination accelerometer/magnetometer/gyroscope, a Bluetooth Low Energy radio, and a battery that can last up to six hours per charge. It also includes elastic straps in a variety of sizes to accommodate attaching the sensors to various spots on the legs, arms, chest or head. The sensors have on-board memory to store thousands of data points, and can transmit results to a paired smartphone for instant replay.
By matching each sensor to its location on a wireframe image in the Notch app, users can quickly set up the system to capture just about any movement the human body is capable of. Notch’s designers imagine it will be useful not only for further democratizing the entertainment industry, but also to athletes, coaches, trainers, physical therapy patients, healthcare professionals, and research scientists.
A basic app comes with each Notch kit, but developers can apply for a software development kit to design their own motion-responsive apps. The company is also working on a special clothing line with built-in attachment points for the sensors, and even plans to release a “clothing API” to help fashion designers create Notch-friendly garments.
Notch is currently available for preorder, and is expected to ship in June 2016. Learn more in the video below.
Author: Ted Burnham