PORTLAND, Ore. — Even established companies are starting to use Kickstarter. Witness motion-tracking platform maker Sixense Entertainment Inc. of Los Gatos, Calif., which will make first deliveries of its second-generation motion-tracking platform and system development kit (SDK) to Kickstarter backers. The Sixense Tracking Embedded Module (STEM) -- the company's first wireless motion-tracking platform -- will launch as a Kickstarter project on Sept. 12.
The STEM system is a six-degrees-of-freedom absolute motion tracker using proprietary magnetic coils -- instead of MEMS chips -- housed in a small oblong module (see photo) that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can embed in their own controllers.
Sixense's new wireless controller houses the oblong Sixense Tracking Embedded Module (STEM, left), which OEMs can embed in their own specialized controllers, such as a head-mounted display, golf club, or tennis racket.
"MEMS is fine for consumer-grade motion tracking," says Sixense cofounder Amir Rubin. "But to achieve the accurate, real-time response of the STEM system required a high-resolution electro-magnetic technology like that used in high-end military and medical devices."
The STEM system supports the simultaneous use of up to five controllers, and its STEM tracker module can be embedded by OEMs into controllers with form-factors that match their applications.
The STEM base station houses the magnetic beacon as well as recharges the controllers and up to three power packs.
"OEMs can embed the STEM tracker to a controller housing for their own specific application -- a head-mounted display, a golf club, a boxing glove, whatever," Rubin told us.
STEM measures position on all three axes (X, Y, Z) while simultaneously measuring orientation (pitch, yaw, roll) by virtue of the handset's response to a magnetic beacon in a base station. The 240 Hz system has low latency (4.2 milliseconds) and communicates with the controllers using a wireless chip set from Oslo's Nordic Semiconductor ASA under the direction of an Analog Devices microcontroller.
STEM is backward compatible with its previous generation motion-tracking platform -- including its OEM's Razar Hydra, which is popular among PC gamers. All development hardware and software from Sixense is open-source, permitting OEMs to modify it in any way. Kickstarter backers will be the first to receive the STEM SDK with all details revealed on Sept. 12 when the Kickstarter project kicks off.