Our team was inspired by the apparent lack of VR MMOs. We felt that third person MMOs were a field yet to be explored in the world of virtual reality. Motivated by this, we thought about the best way of bringing an immersive experience to third person MMOs. We were further inspired by the high-end motion capture suits used by profesional animators. After some consideration, we arrived at our final product idea: an affordable heading sensor driven motion capture system to be used in third person VR MMO melee-fighting games. We also created a simple demo to demonstrate the basic capabilities of our system.
What it does
Our product uses multiple 9-axis IMUs to measure a player's joint rotation and an AHRS algorithm to animate the player. It is intended to be used in a VR game, as it would greatly increase the sense of immersion in the game.
Our small scale system that we built at HackUMBC uses two IMUs: one between the right wrist and elbow and one between the right elbow and shoulder. This gives us axial control of the player's right forearm and upper arm, as demonstrated in our simple sword-swinging demo.
Our team was limited to two IMUs by costs, however more IMUs can be integrated into the system to provide complete control of all major articulated joints in the body. By our estimates, a full body system would cost under $150 (including controllers and IMUs, not including the VR headset that would work with games using the system). This is significantly lower than commercial motion capture suits that start in the thousands.
How we built it
Our system was built by connecting one MPU9250 to an Arduino Uno and another to an Arduino Mega. We separated the IMUs onto two different controllers to ease device addressing. We secured the IMUs onto their controllers with tape and we secured the controllers onto velcro bands using string and tape. The velcro bands were strapped onto the user on the upper arm and forearm. Both of the Arduinos streamed their IMU data to the target over a USB C/USB A cable to the target computer.
We created a demo for our system in Unity. We simply applied transformations to the player model's joints based on data from the respective joints in our motion capture system. We designed the game to be played in an Oculus VR headset to demonstrate the level of engagement our motion capture system can add to games.
Our demo is a simple game that allows a player to slash floating orbs with an imaginary katana.
What's next for IMUCAP
We plan to create a full-body motion capture suit using our system in the future. We would like to create the full suit to prove the full capabilities of our system.