These researchers arrived up with a remedy for a single of VR’s major challenges: tracking your legs

Advanced in Tech & Business

These researchers arrived up with a remedy for a single of VR’s major challenges: tracking your legs


If you’re a newcomer to digital fact, you will notice a thing odd about your physical appearance: Relying on the application, you may perhaps seem down to see you are represented by an avatar that is just a floating torso or nothing but a pair of hands.

Although wi-fi headsets and handheld controllers laden with sensors and computer software do a superior occupation of tracking your higher body in VR, genuine leg monitoring is nonetheless uncommon. That is since it tends to demand an array of sensors on or all around you to do it nicely, which most buyers really do not want to obtain. (Some applications, such as VRChat, do give comprehensive-physique avatars, but they are inclined to use software to approximate reduced-body motions.)

Now, a group of scientists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) are featuring a doable alternative to the leg tracking problem that has so considerably arguably limited how immersed folks can really sense in virtual areas.

Researchers added cameras to Quest 2 controllers to enable full-body tracking in virtual reality, such as with this demo of Feet Saber (a reference to the game Beat Saber).

The scientists arrived up with a way to observe a person’s whole physique by affixing cameras with fisheye lenses to a pair of Fb-father or mother Meta’s Quest 2 controllers, which is currently the most popular VR headset by far (and, like most headsets on the current market, does not now give leg tracking). As a Quest 2 headset wearer held the controllers, the cameras captured photographs of their overall body and were applied to manage a comprehensive-human body avatar in numerous VR demos the scientists made.

With the prototype, buyers could make their avatar kick and stomp blocks in “Feet Saber” (a tongue-in-cheek reference to the common VR match “Beat Saber”), or twist and turn into the suitable situation to pass through an impediment in a form of human-sized “Tetris” sport. The researchers also came up with demos that permit consumers kick a soccer ball and defend a intention from incoming hockey pucks.

“I imagine the legs are expressive. I believe they are important to see how people today are transferring all-around — not just for locomotion but entire body pose for human-to-human interactions,” Chris Harrison, an affiliate professor of human computer system interaction at CMU and a coauthor of the research, explained to CNN Small business.

The prototype, termed ControllerPose, isn’t exact enough to capture fine movements, Harrison claimed, but it will work “quite well” for tracking coarser steps. “If you want to seem down and see if you are squatting or lifting a leg or kicking a ball, it is far more than accurate plenty of to capture individuals type of scenarios,” he claimed.

On common, the system is off by 6.98 centimeters (2.75 inches) when estimating exactly where to clearly show a joint in VR compared to exactly where it essentially is, he said.

To make it function, scientists streamed visuals from two fisheye-lens cameras on every single controller — 1 going through upwards, just one struggling with downwards — to a laptop or computer. (Initially, they applied a desktop computer afterwards on, they applied a small computer linked to a controller to present the whole process could be carried out suitable in the palm of your hand.) Computer software filtered out poor photographs and fastened lens distortion, then stitched camera images with each other so they could be utilised to estimate the headset wearer’s authentic-existence poses. Individuals estimates determined the poses of the full-body avatar in VR.

Harrison’s lab at CMU, the Long run Interfaces Team, has worked on paid collaborations with Meta in the past, he reported, but this was not one of those initiatives.

Meta has been thinking of for yrs how to make avatars much more practical. In an Instagram “Ask Me Anything” session in February, Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth acknowledged the problem of the undertaking though saying the enterprise is taking into consideration how to solve it. “Tracking your own legs accurately is tremendous difficult and essentially not workable just from a physics standpoint with current headsets,” Bosworth said.

Researchers affixed two fisheye-lens cameras to Quest 2 controllers to enable full-body tracking in VR.

Skip Rizzo, director of the Clinical Virtual Reality Group at the University of California’s Institute for Innovative Technologies, thinks leg tracking is handy for particular programs, such as when employing VR for rehabilitation following a stroke. (A single of the researchers’ demos was a harmony-coaching exercising that had users stand on one leg at a time.) As with online video game equipment — be it a steering wheel for a racing sport or a vest that vibrates if you’re shot in a very first-particular person-shooter video game — he understands that most persons don’t want to spend for extra sensors to use with their VR headsets.

“You gotta be true hardcore to invest in that,” he stated.

Still, he noted that incorporating cameras and a small computer to hand controllers would suck up more electricity (and considering that the Quest 2 controllers run on batteries, that could imply changing them a lot more generally). Harrison, way too, sees electrical power use as a challenge in the long run, the researchers would like to enhance the speed at which they can procedure images on the handheld controller, but they do not want to run down its battery life too speedily.

Although the ControllerPose challenge is meant to get people fascinated in the possible for making use of controllers to track the system, Harrison thinks it is probably we’ll see such a attribute incorporated with an approaching VR headset. (Meta declined to remark.)

“It’s not that it is the killer app for VR,” Harrison claimed, “but we’re just likely that one phase closer to unlocking that vision of actually teleporting you into one more reality.”