PrioVR the full body motion tracking suit

Man using PrioVR in virtual games

The PrioVR is an in-development motion capture suit intended for mainstream use, mainly video games. Unlike many professional motion capture systems the PrioVR is not a cumbersome full body unit, but a series of sensors strapped to the body that allow for skeletal movement to be accurately digitised.

This means that your skeleton can be mapped onto the body of the virtual character under your control. See a pile of boxes? Now you can kick them. Want to freely aim a weapon? Now you can.

The PrioVR comes in three configurations. The Lite suit has eight sensors that only cover the upper body. In other words, it’s for sit-down simulations. This would work well in cockpit-type simulations and for players who only want to track arm movements for running, aiming and manipulating objects.

The Core suit has twelve sensors for full body tracking, allowing the user a full range of motion for gaming purposes.

Finally there’s the PrioVR Pro, which has seventeen sensors and, according to developer YEI Technology, can be used for professional motion capture. The Pro suit adds additional precision in terms of foot position, hip movement and shoulder movement.

Instead of finger motion tracking the PrioVR makes use of handheld controllers to perform in-game actions,the PrioVR is also explicitly compatible with the Oculus Rift.

How does the device actually work? Simply put, it has a number of inertial sensors (such as those  found in smartphones) strapped to strategic points on the body. The data generated by these sensors are then routed wirelessly through a central hub (also worn) that combines the motion data and sends it to the software.

Compared to optical methods of motion tracking such as Kinect, the PrioVR provides very fluid and low-latency motion tracking. It doesn’t matter how many individual PrioVR users there are and the motion cannot be obscured from the sensor as it can be with camera-based solutions.

One of the other advantages of the PrioVR is that it can be packed away easily, not something one can do on a  whim with bulky devices such as the Virtuix Omni, but then again the Omni lets the user moves a limitless distance in each direction without fear of bumping into walls or furniture.

Like any hardware system, ultimately what matters is what software titles are available for it. The PrioVR is not yet available in its final consumer form, but a $1200 PrioVR Pro Developer Suit is available, so hopefully some software titles will support it at the time of its consumer launch. Pricing for the consumer models is anyone’s guess, but the Kickstarter reward tiers for all PrioVR models were all under $500, which can be taken as a general indication of pricing.

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