Motion capture technology has been around for decades. The fidelity of current systems is phenomenal. They bring amazing characters to life in film and games. But the technology is expensive and requires substantial human and infrastructure resources to support it.
A set-up used to capture an athlete’s moves for a sports game requires a dedicated mo-cap studio and an array of cameras and sensors that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars – not counting the specialized operators or the custom software required to make sense of the data.
Recent innovations have made available a new breed of motion capture. One new system, the Perception Neuron, uses an array of 18-32 sensors, each with a highly accurate accelerometer and gyroscope. The system can record up to 120 samples per second, and unlike high end optical systems, it doesn’t have problems with occlusion because the data is not being captured by a camera – just sensors. The system can record and transmit data wirelessly. In real time. It’s designed from the ground up to integrate with virtual reality displays. It costs $1,000.
We believe that over the long term, three major new technologies will have far reaching impact in the martial arts world.
Potential applications for this technology are far reaching and breathtaking. As a sci-fi fan, the long term arc is exciting to dream about. But as a practical martial artist, I realize the value in taking the first steps on the path – the near term applications. We’ve just begun to think about what those might look like:
As a first step, we purchased a system and started testing it. Before spending too much time thinking about applications, we wanted to get the system up and running and see what the data looks like.
We’re sure to run into a range of obstacles and problems. We’ve already identified a number of issues like proper calibration (the movement data doesn’t quite map properly to the model) and dealing with elevation changes (the system doesn’t deal well with rolling/falling). These kinds of things are pretty straightforward to address. If we do encounter hard problems to solve, our community has brought together individuals with the experience and motivation to do so.
Here’s a look at some data from our first capture session:
(The red circle in the abdominal area and the red circle projected onto the ground plane show the center of gravity.)
It’s possible our efforts won’t produce anything meaningful. Our dojo has invested resources into many projects that didn’t yield beneficial results. But through those failures, many valuable efforts and innovations have blossomed. We are cautiously optimistic and hope this effort will have a significant positive impact on how we think about perceiving, analyzing, and harnessing the power of movement in the martial arts.
Do you have any ideas to share or experience in this realm? Will this develop into a powerful and transformative technology, or will it just be a fad?
We are excited to hear your thoughts. We are just beginning to experiment in this new world of motion capture, virtual reality, and augmented reality. A constructive dialogue and information exchange can only help us illuminate our path as we navigate the unknown.