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CES 2014: Ohio Company is Bringing Military-Grade Motion Sensors to Gaming

Roblimo posted about 10 months ago | from the now-your-computer-can-track-every-twitch-and-wiggle dept.

Games 46

In a town called Portsmouth, Ohio, a company called Yost Engineering (YEI) Technology has quietly been making motion sensing devices for military, aerospace, industrial, robotics, and other commercial motion capture uses, including rotoscoping for the film/video industry. Now they want to bring this same technology to gaming. They tried a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, but only got a little less than 1/2 of their target amount pledged. They're going to do Kickstarter again, starting Feb. 14, 2014 -- and this time, they've been working on PR before asking for money. You can see what they're up to in gaming sensor development at www.priovr.com/. Or go to the main YEI Technology corporate site, which has a whole bunch of free downloads in addition to the usual product blurbs.

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Military grade? (1)

roeguard (1113267) | about 10 months ago | (#45944901)

I thought military grade meant reliable, rugged, and manufactured by the lowest bidder. High performance doesn't really seem like its part of the package.

I would rather have something commercial or enterprise grade if I'm after performance, or consumer grade if I am after price. Maybe military grade if its for a toddler and I don't want it to be destroyed instantly...

Re:Military grade? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 10 months ago | (#45944953)

High performance doesn't really seem like its part of the package.

It is if you're shopping for components to build an INS-guided cruise or ballistic missile. ;-) That reminds me, where can I buy these sensors again? :D

Re:Military grade? (1)

mi (197448) | about 10 months ago | (#45945203)

That reminds me, where can I buy these sensors again?

Sensors-shmensors! I want to by some of their shares... Too bad, they don't seem to be publicly traded (yet?)...

Re:Military grade? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 10 months ago | (#45945357)

It is if you're shopping for components to build an INS-guided cruise or ballistic missile. ;-)

Ballistic missiles don't require high performance. Once they are launched there is little to compute other than time to detonation. Some early missiles used pneumatic logic [wikipedia.org] , which is very reliable even in a radioactive environment, but runs with a clock measured in seconds rather than nanoseconds.

Re:Military grade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45948217)

Gyro accuracy under 100 G loads isn't high performance? Gyro drift over a long flight time (ICBM, cruise over ocean without GPS, even a cavitating torpedo) isn't high performance?

I don't need this accuracy though. On the other hand, some may pay for a golf club that has sensors that can handle it and say exactly what they did.

Re:Military grade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45950033)

cruise over ocean without GPS, even a cavitating torpedo

These aren't ballistic missiles though...

Re:Military grade? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 10 months ago | (#45951359)

Ballistic missiles don't require high performance. Once they are launched there is little to compute other than time to detonation.

What are you blabbering about computing? I was talking about sensors. Resolution, sensitivity, linearity, temperature and time stability, signal-to-noise ratio and frequency response, among others, definitely are the performance characteristics of any sensor, and missiles have some of the most stringent requirements for inertial sensors of all applications.

Re:Military grade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45944977)

Even a commercial product could be classified as "military grade" if it meets a specification put out by the military. Unfortunately a lot of people use the term "military grade" as synonymous with "sold to the military", but the implication of the term "military grade" implies what would be better described as "MIL-SPEC".

The military can put out a specification to buy something that is entirely commercial, but if it's MIL-SPEC then it meets your definition of "reliable and rugged". And I can tell you despite conventional wisdom (which is usually false anyways), the military tends to a best value analysis, not simply a lowest bidder analysis. Defense contractors and subcontractors are required by the Federal Aquisition Regulations to conduct a Best Value analysis in accordance with FAR section 15, and price only factors in amongst the vendors that meet capability requirements. Now the capability requirements or the spec may be bs, that's a different story, but it's not even remotely as simple as lowest bidder.

http://www.acquisition.gov/far/html/Subpart%2015_1.html

Re:Military grade? (3, Funny)

Dahamma (304068) | about 10 months ago | (#45945091)

Even a commercial product could be classified as "military grade" if it meets a specification put out by the military.

Yep. You can have the military grade steaks, I'll still with USDA grade Prime ;)

Re:Military grade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45945363)

Steaks, you should see their lobsters! Seriously, I think they take rejects from the rubber ball factory and feed them to the troops.

Re:Military grade? (2)

Roblimo (357) | about 10 months ago | (#45944983)

Simulators are an area where military requirements are at least as strict as commercial specs. Flight simulators are a good example. Link was the first serious simulator manufacturer, and their first large customer was the Army Air Force.

Re:Military grade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45945053)

My first thought is actually about ITAR. If we're talking military-grade anything -- gyroscopes, sensors, cheese graters, anything -- going into a consumer product, my first thought is "what keep people from buying that product, exporting it, and them disassembling it for future use in unfriendly military applications". This question actually comes up a lot. Some companies (like the one I work for) for that reason refuse to sell to military clients (since they don't want their previously-unregulated IP getting swept up into into a regulatory area that may later affect their ability to sell out of the country. other companies (mostly lab equipment supply companies) refuse to sell to non-US persons, even if they are living/have a shipping address in the U.S. It's not so much about the tech as it is about the regulatory headache that comes _questions_ about the tech's _potential_ uses, sometimes a very gray area.

As such, I think the headline is probably hyperbole or simplification. It's probably more accurate to say, "company with reputation for military (and non-military) contracts is thinking about putting out a (a mid-tier consumer-grade) product for gaming."

Re:Military grade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45946101)

There are a lot of mil spec things that would not be ITAR restricted. ITAR restrictions are mostly for specific narrow categories of products (even if annoyingly arbitrary), and that won't stop you from exporting a lot of mil speced mechanical and electrical components.

Re:Military grade? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | about 10 months ago | (#45945063)

Exactly. "Military grade" sounds impressive and all, but "movie/game production grade" mocap would be a lot better technology for, oh, GAMING.

Re:Military grade? (1)

El Puerco Loco (31491) | about 10 months ago | (#45947311)

Yeah, military grade generally means it weighs a ton and comes in a giant metal rack mount case, and possibly uses vacuum tubes.

Re:Military grade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45948289)

Lol if you knew what you were talking about... Military grade tech does not always mean rugged and manufactured by the lowest builder. I have personally used these sensors (from the Three Space Sensor family) and they are indeed military grade in both ruggedness and performance. These sensors are comparable to $20,000 systems that are on the market at a fraction of the cost. How they do it I have no idea.

Re:Military grade? (1)

Anti-Social Network (3032259) | about 10 months ago | (#45956689)

Wii controller being what it is, I thought there was more call for military grade televisions.

I'll get my coat.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45944921)

and this time, they've been working on PR before asking for money

Slashvertisment anyone?

Wire it up to MMD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45944959)

If the YEI guys wire it up to MikuMikuDance [wikipedia.org] or some other machinima creation program, they'd have a better chance at hitting their goal. Bonus points for demonstrating pluses versus the Kinect interface.

video clip = advertizing (1)

BringsApples (3418089) | about 10 months ago | (#45944961)

and this time, they've been working on PR before asking for money

Obviously, if this story's on Slashdot.

The real question... (2)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | about 10 months ago | (#45945005)

is why they just didn't use YETI as their company acronym and be done with it?

Re:The real question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45945371)

Exactly. This guy is asking the right question!

Re:The real question... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 10 months ago | (#45945405)

is why they just didn't use YETI as their company acronym and be done with it?

Because Blue already makes a YETI?

And do they use (1)

PNutts (199112) | about 10 months ago | (#45945015)

Military-grade encryption?

Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45945025)

Wow! When I push on my eye, everything gets blurry.

Oh, wait, you're talking about IC based motion sensors(MEMS). Yea, see this isn't really news. (I know you're shocked.) We've had really tiny, really high quality/sensitivity motion sensors in game controllers, phones, and R/C modeling controllers for years!

they're cheap too! You can get really overpriced ones from [sparkfun.com] for $13 for your own projects.

Crowd Funding Jumped The Shark (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45945035)

Perhaps a sensationalist headline but established companies shouldn't be using crowd funding, its meant for the little guy.

Re: Crowd Funding Jumped The Shark (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45945801)

This company is not that big.

No Spy Camera! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45945143)

The number one draw for me is that, unlike other similar offerings, this one does not have a spy camera aimed at you all the time!

In fact; this system is far faster and more accurate than even the newest version of the Kinect. From the Video: Old Kinect had a 90ms latency, the new Kinect has a 60ms latency and this YEI strap-on system has a smaller than 10ms latency.

Also; This YEI system is essentially ready to go now. They say they just want to tweak the design of the wearables then raise enough money from kickstarter to mass-produce it. The turn around from kickstarter to shipping is supposed to be very quick.

I will be checking this out, especially since I already have the Oculus Rift dev system.

This + Occulus Rift = (1)

dohnut (189348) | about 10 months ago | (#45945151)

Complete living room destruction!

And probably a trip to the ER.

Rotoscoping? (1)

meeotch (524339) | about 10 months ago | (#45945269)

Why does TFS link to a wikipedia article about rotoscoping, which (correctly) identifies it as a manual, 2D process?

But I guess we should be thankful that, if editors aren't actually going to catch such mistakes, they are at least doing us the favor of linking to documentation highlighting their errors.

Re:Rotoscoping? (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 10 months ago | (#45953471)

Yeah, I don't think the editors know what Rotoscoping is. :P

Maybe "Rotomation" which is a process for matching 3D geometry to footage but that's not usually (if at all) used for rotoscoping.

/. Continuing its long slow downward spiral... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45945431)

I had to watch an almost FIVE MINUTE UNSKIPPABLE video ad just for the privilege of watching the terrible video (which is also an ad). Wtf /.?

Tried it & it's awesome (5, Interesting)

loopdloop (207642) | about 10 months ago | (#45945457)

I was at CES and got to put on their sensor suit with an Oculus Rift. It's the best immersion I've experienced so far. The ability to independently rotate your hands, biceps, and forearms is hugely beneficial.

Because the system isn't based on optical tracking, there are no occlusion issues. The biggest drawback is that it takes a couple minutes to "suit up". They need to devise a way to attach the sensors to you without all the straps. Also, I've heard people report that there can be sensor drift problems. I didn't experience that, though.

Overall, I was super impressed with the experience.

-Matt Sonic / virtualreality.io

Re:Tried it & it's awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45946755)

so buy the developers kit

Re:Tried it & it's awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45948655)

Something like this?
http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/249318746/reflex_slap_wraps_reflective_wrap_reflex.html

the problem with this idea (2)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 10 months ago | (#45946445)

simply put, this is a very expensive way to do things. the Kinect has done a good job at motion capture so why not just improve on that idea? using multiple (cheap-o) cameras at different angles, you could not only capture one person but multiple people without putting on any annoying suits or even extend the area of capture. what's better is that it scales as you can add more and more cameras and create a more accurate model which means it would solve occlusion issues. just to sweeten the deal, you could use optical flow to predict future motion and thus remove any possible lag you may encounter. this would be a great use case for Epiphany III [adapteva.com] manycore processor as it could process every camera at the same time.

the bottom line is that while this military-grade motion sensing stuff may be a great but it's going to be expensive ($350 per unit from what i see on KS) and there are going to be a LOT of hardware support issues.

Further reading:
3D Reconstruction from Multiple Images [ed.ac.uk]
Optical Flow [wikipedia.org]

Re:the problem with this idea (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about 10 months ago | (#45946629)

Price tends to come down as more people adopt the technology. Do you remember how expensive a cell phone cost when that technology first rolled out to the general population? Military or government sponsored technology projects usually end up contributing to the advancement of non-military related applications. One example would be GPS. The government spent billions on GPS development for the military and now that technology is used for non-military applications.

Re:the problem with this idea (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 10 months ago | (#45946939)

Price tends to come down as more people adopt the technology.

you are assuming many people will adopt their version of motion tracking technology. GPS and cell phones didn't have any direct competition, motion tracking does. a better comparison would be VHS and Betamax. however, in this case, full body optical tracking (Kinect) already has a three year head start, costs a lot less, isnt clunky and is in a shitload of homes. that's some stiff competition.

Re:the problem with this idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45947439)

you are assuming many people will adopt their version of motion tracking technology. GPS and cell phones didn't have any direct competition, motion tracking does. a better comparison would be VHS and Betamax. however, in this case, full body optical tracking (Kinect) already has a three year head start, costs a lot less, isnt clunky and is in a shitload of homes. that's some stiff competition.

Newsflash: Their technology uses the same underlying sensors that Nintendo's Wiimote uses. You just lost the argument using your very own reasoning.

Their prices are outrageous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45947475)

This appears to be normal a 9-axis gyro system and an MCU that can output relative/absolute position from reference. This should be about half that price retail. I am not sure why anyone would think its revolutionary, this is cornerstone of most wearable positioning.

military grade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45946703)

so its built to suck by default?

next Dayton ohio invents a new gadget

Re:military grade? (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 10 months ago | (#45947339)

Portsmouth Ohio is nowhere near Dayton.

I have seen it in person, it's legit. (2)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | about 10 months ago | (#45948141)

I saw this demo'ed first hand, and it is awesome. I don't know that I'd call it "military grade" (not sure what that means) but they originally developed the technology for controlling industrial robots better, according to the guy in the booth who I talked to. So I'd say it's at least "industrial grade" tech. I really want to see the kickstarter succeed. This VR suit pairs brilliantly with oculus rift, and makes the wiimote seem rather primitive.

Prof Yost (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45948369)

I had him as a professor for some computer engineering courses in the 90's. A little bit of a nut in the fun way; good professor, and coincidentally I ran into his MIDI servo controllers about a decade ago. Those were very solid, well designed, and responded to the appropriate range of MIDI commands instead of being just barely functional. It looks like his product line has matured quite a bit, and this seems completely plausible from him and his group.

Will the public wear these? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45950209)

Will the general public buy into something that sells for over $300, and then requires one to "suit up" and strap multiple thingies to your arms, legs, head, and torso? Unfortunately, I think not. If the sensors are built into a garment like thing (i.e. something like a sleeved shirt) so the user just pulls it over his/her head without multiple strapping points, it may be more acceptable. The public is extremely lazy.

Bad Timing (1)

Phizital1ty (1755648) | about 10 months ago | (#45951215)

The VR community had heavily invested in the STEM kickstarter a month or so before PrioVR's kickstarter was up. I think this was a big reason that the first one failed. The marketing of the technology also failed because they didn't show any integration into any existing games like the STEM system was doing at the time. The fact that the Razer Hydra was already in the hands of folks meant they could see other people using what is in sense a prototype for the STEM system. Also PrioVR is only relational to your own body and doesn't track where you physically are in a room which was one of the major concerns people wanted addressed.
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