5DT (Fifth Dimension Technologies) has announced a data glove optimized for use in motion capture and puppeteering applications. The glove is aptly named the "5DT Mocap Glove".
The motion capture process involves recording the body movements of a real actor by means of a motion capture suit (worn by the actor) that outputs the position and orientation of the actor's limbs for the duration of the recording. This motion recording is then used to control an animated character to move exactly like the original real actor did. This process speeds up the animation process significantly. A talented mocap actor can record an animated sequence in a fraction of the time that it would have taken with previous techniques.
More and more motion capture studios are not satisfied with only large-scale movements any more. They now also want to record finer movements like finger flexure to properly map the movement of an animated character's hand. The ideal capturing tool for such fine movements is a data glove. A data glove is an instrumented glove that records the finger flexure of the user's fingers and transmits these values to the host computer.
Data gloves are also used extensively for puppeteering. Puppeteering involves the use of a data glove to control a specific part of an animated character, e.g. the puppeteer opening and closing his/her hand to open and close the eyes of the animated character.
"We visited several motion capture studios that are already using
our data gloves. We took their requests and inputs to heart and decided
to develop a data glove optimized for the motion capture industry."
Said Jared Baer, COO of 5DT Inc. in Silicon Valley, California.
"The motion capture industry required across-the-board improvements to our current data glove design. We had to take a new look at functionality and also had to face and overcome several technical difficulties." Said Mario Schehle, Hardware Manager of the 5DT Group.
The 5DT Mocap Glove features a lightweight, sleek design with very soft interface cables. It has 2 sensors per finger for flexure measurement and also a sensor between fingers to measure abduction between the fingers (14 sensors in total). It communicates with the host computer via a wireless radio frequency link. Since there are now more active actors on motion capture and puppeteering sets, the new wireless design allows up to 8 gloves to operate simultaneously in the same radio frequency region.
Motion capture actors need to be able to move about freely, without being restricted by heavy and bulky battery packs and control units. The general electronics and transmitter electronics of the 5DT Mocap Glove has been integrated to save space. The battery life of the glove has been increased, allowing for a full day of operation on a single charged battery pack. The charging of the battery pack has also been streamlined. Special attention has been given to cable management. The number of cables and connectors has been minimized so as to prevent the mocap actor from getting entangled in a myriad of cables.
“Ideally, the mocap actor must not even be aware of the motion capture suit and data gloves being worn. The new 5DT Mocap Glove brings us a step closer to this ideal.” Said Paul Olckers, CEO of the 5DT Group.
Drivers for the 5DT Mocap Glove are currently being integrated with most of the mainstream motion capture and computer animation packages.
The 5DT Mocap Glove will be commercially available in the final quarter of 2002.