For several years, hackers have been exploring inertial measurement units (IMUs) as cheap sensors for motion capturing. [Ivo Herzig’s] final Diploma project “Bewegungsfelder” takes the concept of IMU-based MoCap one step further with a freely configurable motion capturing system based on strap-on, WiFi-enabled IMU modules.
The Bewegungsfelder system consists of multiple, ESP8266-powered standalone IMU sensor nodes and a motion capturing server. Attached to a person’s body (or anything else) the nodes wirelessly stream the output of their onboard MPU6050 6-axis accelerometer/gyroscope to a central motion capturing server. A server application translates the incoming data into skeletal animations, visualizes them as a live preview and stores the MoCap data for later use. Because the sensor nodes are entirely self-contained, they can be easily reconfigured to any skeletal topology, be it a human, a cat, or an industrial robot.
[Ivo] already included support for custom skeleton definitions, as well as BVH import/export to use the generated data in commonly used tools like Blender of Maya. The software portion of the project is released as open source under MIT License, with both the firmware and the server application code being available on GitHub. According to [Ivo], these nodes can be built for as few as $5, which puts them in a sweet price range for AR/VR applications — or for making your own cartoons.