The creative geniuses at OptiTrack have developed a new system that has the potential to speed up the arrival of virtual reality arcades and theme parks. OptiTrack, known for its motion tracking technology, has created surprisingly affordable cameras. This development could reduce the cost required to track virtual reality headsets and accessories by upwards of 40 percent. This price slash will likely hasten the debut of out-of-home virtual reality experiences such as The Void.
OptiTrack is poised to sell its popular cameras at surprisingly low rates. If the company is able to deliver affordable cameras, it would hasten the arrival of virtual reality arcades, VR theme parks and other types of destination entertainment. Such destination entertainment centers will soon pop up in urban centers across the globe. Virtual reality through motion tracking is about to spill over into the mainstream in a big way.
About The Void
The Void spans lengthy regions with OptiTrack’s cameras. These cameras are positioned overhead to pinpoint the locations of individuals, controllers and anything else important to the overarching story. The Void’s initial installation is a Ghostbusters experience in New York. Visitors are made to feel as if they really are nabbing frightful ghouls within a haunted building. Such environments are made incredibly immersive with the use of temperature alterations, gusts of wind and scent effects that make the story that much more believable. Ghostbusters is the perfect fit for The Void as participants are equipped with a backpack that powers wireless headsets. It feels just like the series’ proton packs should feel.
James Jenses, one of The Void’s co-founders, has made it known that external tracking markers are no longer used to cover the headset and controller. OptiTrack has covered objects and individuals with reflective dots or balls in order to track movement. The Void represents one of OptiTrack’s first technologies to make use of an “active” system where embedded lighting adorns objects instead of delicate balls. The Void is upgrading the visuals in its Rapture VR helmet and will likely have nearly two dozen uber-immersive “stages” by the end of the year.
About OptiTrack Active
OptiTrack Active is a series of infrared LEDs that are synced with the company’s Slim 13E cameras. This technological marvel provides marker identification in real-time without requiring a special configuration for specific patterns of each tracked object. OptiTrack Active ultimately allows for over 100 objects to be tracked at the same time across areas larger than 100 feet by 100 feet. The company’s new Slim 13E cameras are currently priced at about $1,500. Similar hardware that made use of a comparably old dot-tracking technology cost about $2,500. Accurately “covering” large spaces often requires dozens of cameras and ultimately spikes the system’s total cost rather quickly.
A Word About Vive Tracking
The HTC Vive makes use of a nifty lighthouse tracking system. Valve Software is advancing the base stations for this system yet it is unclear as to whether the technology will eventually cover vast regions. While large scale virtual landscapes like those created by The Void rely on cameras for tracking purposes, IMAX VR has used an array of HTC Vive tracking base stations in large pods to create quite the captivating virtual reality experience.
Brian Nilles, the Chief Strategy Officer of OptiTrack, stated the company sold a couple dozen out-of-home virtual reality tracking experiences two years ago. OptiTrack sold upwards of 500 systems this past year. Some clients purchased the system for research purposes. A handful of clients were universities. Plenty of the purchases have been used for out-of-home experiences in Europe, Asia and North America. It is clear that there is growing interest in this amazing technology.
Destination Entertainment is Poised to Take Off
The Void is only one company attempting to establish itself in the destination entertainment niche. There are plenty of competitors in this burgeoning sector. Destination entertainment combines participant exploration with storylines, laser tag, paintball, virtual reality and other elements. If OptiTrack makes its tech available at a market-friendly price, VR destination entertainment will be fast-tracked into the mainstream. It might not be long until we see these types of locations popping up in cities and suburbs throughout the United States and the rest of the world.