In collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories, MIT has produced a new kind of suit that can capture the motions of your entire body — and you don’t need a studio or lab environment to use it. It even works for people driving or playing ping-pong. A New Scientist article discusses the suit, explaining how it uses ultra-sonic beeps, gyroscopes and accelerometers:
Several sensors measuring about 2.5 centimetres on each side are attached to a person’s legs and arms. The sensors detect movement in two different ways: accelerometers and gyroscopes measure motion, but ultrasonic beeps are also emitted.
Tiny microphones mounted on the torso pick up these beeps, allowing a laptop computer, carried in a backpack, to calculate the distance to the sensor. The system is similar to, albeit much simpler than, bats’ ultrasonic echolocation, and together with the motion sensors provides a more accurate overall picture of body movement. The small backpack also holds the batteries that power the system.
Originally designed to allow MIT students to give Clippy a virtual beating, the system could be utilized for various purposes. A New Scientist article mentions the potential for making animated movies more realistic and help doctors analyze movements of patients undergoing physical therapy.
This is awesome. Is there anything more to this? Yes. The price. The NS article quotes Rolf Adelsberger from ETH on that: The suit was made from off-the-shelf components and is much cheaper than similar systems used in the past. Currently, it costs about $3,000 — but Adelsberger imagines that the price could go down to a few hundred dollars if mass-produced.