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Real-time motion capture system from Disney Research uses as few sensors as possible


Serious motion capture setups often involve dozens of optical markers, inertial sensors, or both, making them a pain to set up and tear down, and producing a ton of data. This Disney Research project produces high-quality results from just a handful of sensors by making some smart assumptions about how the body works.

The researchers noted that all kinds of things can prevent the ideal number and placement of sensors, while occlusion of markers, costumes, bad lighting and other factors can also get in the way. What they propose is a minimal system that still produces good real-time results.

In their system, one inertial unit is put on each hand, one on each foot, and one each on the head and tailbone. Optical markers in the same places offer a way to reconcile relative motion measured with absolute position as seen by a reference camera.

They can get away with having so few sensors because the data they send is put into a physics-based model that knows a little bit about how the body moves. Based on the position of the markers and the forces they detect, it computes a “physically plausible” position and motion, double checked with a set of known motions, joint positions, and poses to be sure it isn’t something weird.


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