This article is available in: French
Earlier this year in June, Rokoko has announced its new product, the Coil Pro. At SIGGRAPH 2023, we had the pleasure to catch up with Jakob Balslev, CEO and co founder of the company. We met at the exhibition hall where Rokoko had a booth for a demo of their new technology.
At the moment, there are several approaches to motion capture on the market. Here are the main ones:
- Optical (motion based). This approach provides absolution positionning, delivering accurate world-space data over time. However, it has a few drawbacks, the main one being occlusion: in other words, as Rokoko explains, the moments when cameras lose sight of an actor’s body parts due to other actors or props getting in the way. This is why such systems can’t capture too many people at the same time.
- IMU based motion capture. Since no line of sight is required, occlusion isn’t an issue. Moreover, this technique can be set up basically everywhere, and in very little time. However, IMU based motion capture isn’t perfect: since positionning is relative to the starting point, errors will add up as you use it, and it tends to drift over time.
- EMF (electromagnetic fields) are another approach. They are used, for example, for motion capture gloves.
- Last, but not least, AI based motion capture is very affordable, but it also suffers from occlusion issues. And the end result usually isn’t as good as what you get using optical mocap/IMUs.
Coil Pro: IMU and EMF, combined
At SIGGRAPH 2023, Rokoko showcased their new tracking platform that will power all their hardware solutions going forward (SmarsuitPro, SmartGloves). The platform is called Volta Tracking Technology and it fulfils the promise of no drift, no occlusion by combining IMU and EMF with a sensor fusion algorithm.
This platform is a key component used by Coil Pro, a device that allows absolute positionning within its range.
“The Coil Pro is a mocap dream we had since the beginning“, said Jakob Balslev, Rokoko CEO. “We tried to figure out a way to have no occlusion or drift. The device create a frequenty field and electromagnetic field (EMF), with 5 meters of radius in each direction. Within that range you can get an absolute position, you get accuracy overtime“. If you walk outside of the capture space, the IMUs will take over and resync with the EMF field when you re-enter. Rokoko explains that the transition to IMU-only when you leave the EMF field is “seamless” and that no data is lost. “There is no limitation when you are capturing. However it will be less precise if you are far away from the device” added Jakob Balslev.
The Coil Pro can be mounted on all standard tripods, hung from the ceiling, or placed on/under a desk, explains Rokoko. “This is for your home studio office, you can bring it on the road but this is more a stup for a room. The system works also outside“, Jakob Balslev told us.
Indeed, after seing the product we can say that it is a bit heavy, and no battery is included: you will need a power cord. We definitely recommend using it inside, not outside.
The pre order has opened this august and the fist shipping should start in November.
Rokoko also told us that they already plan to improve the Coil Pro. An extension of the range is part of their priorities. However, the core of their current R&D is focused on AI.
“AI / Machine Learning is playing a role in most of our tools at this point, but there are three specific products / features that we are focused on“, explained Jakob Balslev. Here they are:
- Rokoko Vision (formerly Rokoko Video): a new release coming up this Thursday will allow users to add an additional camera to the existing Vision AI mocap solution. This way, you’ll get two points of view at the same time. This will provide much higher data quality.
- This filter inside of Studio will use AI to clean up jitter and other flaws in motion capture data, while adding a sense of gravity and physics to the asset. It will eventually work on all assets, but will be released this Fall in a version specifically for the Rokoko’s tools (Smartsuit Pro and Rokoko Vision).
- One more thing: “we will have a very interesting solution coming out also in the generative AI realm“, Jakob Balslev told us, “but I can’t be too specific about it in public yet“. We should get more information about this in the coming months.
In the meantime, you can check out the officiel Coil Pro video presentation below, as well as the product page.