Sixense STEM adds full motion tracking to Samsung Gear VR

Sixense STEM adds full motion tracking to Samsung Gear VR

At the San Francisco Virtual Reality #7 event, Sixense CEO Amir Rubin took to the stage to talk about his company's recent work in bringing support for its STEM system to Samsung's anticipated Gear VR virtual reality headset.

This means the introduction of advanced features that a pure head mounted tracker like the Gear VR could never hope to attain on its own, including full head and body tracking.

Full body

Here's the problem virtual reality systems are suffering from.

They can track many different kinds of head movements that allow you to look around a virtual environment smoothly and naturally. In the case of the Gear VR and other smartphone-driven VR systems they use the accelerometer, digital compass and gyroscope built into the handset to determine any movements you make with your head.

But VR systems struggle when it comes to figuring out where your body is in relation to your head. They're unable to tell the difference between looking down at the floor, for instance, and leaning forward to peer over the edge of a virtual building. In this situation, your in-game character might misinterpret this motion and take a step forward, when you never actually intended for them to move.

Using STEM with Oculus

STEM is Sixense's answer to this, and other motion-tracking, problems. It adds a unique, natural control system that can put your hands into a virtual world, and can be configured to monitor what any part of your head and body are actually doing in the physical world.

A similar system has appeared on the latest Oculus Rift Crescent Bay devkit, which uses an array of infra-red LEDs dotted around the outside of the HMD, and on the back of its head strap.

With support for the STEM SDK being offered to Samsung's system, the potential for the Note 4-driven VR experience is significantly expanded.

We've yet to hear when the Gear VR is even going to appear, despite it being promised for a rapidly-dwindling 2014, and STEM support is unlikely to be available from launch day. But it's an interesting development that will have a lot of VR game developers - quite rightly - excited.

You can currently pre-order the STEM system from the Sixeye website.

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