Sony is trying out the metaverse with new motion capture devices collectively known as Mocopi.
The Mocopi system consists of six color-coded sensors and goes to key areas of a person’s body (your head, hip, wrists and ankles) using either Velcro or a clip to record movement via a dedicated smartphone app. This technology allows users to control an anime-style avatar in real time to create videos or interact with people in compatible metaverse services such as VRChat. It’s similar to a large Hollywood-style motion capture system, but without the special equipment or operators. Sony hopes Mocopi will help content creators “involved in film and animation production” and facilitate development in key areas such as fitness platforms, the company said. Announcement. (opens in new tab)
As the preview video is to be believed (opens in new tab), Mocopi is actually quite accurate. The avatar closely follows a person’s movements from running, dancing and even lip syncing. Once done, users can watch the video of the avatar in motion on the mobile app.
The sensors themselves are 32 mm (just over an inch) in diameter and weigh 8 grams (0.28 ounces). They are battery powered and come with a charging case so users don’t have to worry about getting tangled in cords. According to the Mocopi product page (opens in new tab), each sensor has a battery life of up to 10 hours, depending on how often you would use them. They even have a degree of protection of IP65, which means they are fully protected against dust and can survive splashing water.
The setup seems pretty easy (opens in new tab) at. Each puck connects to smartphones via Bluetooth LE, but must remain stationary during the pairing process for them to connect properly. Then you calibrate the sensors so that the avatar is synchronized correctly.
Video recordings are saved as an MP4 file with a resolution of 1080p (1920×1080) and a frame rate of 30 fps. The motion data itself is recorded separately, which can be uploaded to a PC for further animation. If you don’t like the anime style of the avatar, you can upload your own style.
Sony will ship a Mocopi software development kit (SDK) on December 15, which will allow creative users to create custom assets. Motion data can also be edited on select 3D development software such as the Unity game engine and MotionBuilder. The full list of supported software is still unknown, but that information will be released along with the SDK on December 15th.
Mocopi will be a Japan exclusive as it launches in late January 2023 for 49,500 yen (approximately $356 USD) alongside the official app. Pre-orders start mid-December. It’s unknown if Mocopi will see an international release, but since the app is entirely in English, it’s definitely possible. Moreover, Sony is no stranger exporting its technology to willing buyers abroad.
Future of VR
Granted, Mocopi is pretty cool, but it’s way too early to tell if it can convince people to join the metaverse. Part of the hesitation is the high barrier to entry, whether or not it is expensive headphones, the lack of a great app, or in Sony’s case, limited smartphone support. According to Mocopi’s product page, Android users must own one of six Sony Xperia models, such as the 5IV to use the app. However, the range for iOS devices is much larger, from iPhone 12 to iPhone 14 Pro Max. Still, putting virtual reality technology in the hands of users could be the nudge the metaverse needs to break into the mainstream.
If you’re interested in diving into virtual reality, be sure to check out Best Product’s recently updated version list of best VR headsets.