Optical Tracking at the HPC/V

Term project by Thomas ten Cate

This term project took place at the High-Performance Computing and Visualisation Center (HPC/V) at the Donald Smits Center for Information Technology (CIT) of the University of Groningen. The project looked at an optical tracking using the OptiTrack system by NaturalPoint. The eventual project goal was to implement this system in a Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE) so that tracked physical objects could be used to interact with the virtual environment. The project thus evaluated the feasibility of this goal and, in particular, the suitability of the OptiTrack system for this purpose.


As part of the project and to test the tracking, a game called »Attack of the Cubes« was created. In this game the player plays the role of a Jedi knight defending the universe against evil cubes that have gone over to the Dark Side. These evil cubes are launched from behind a 2m x 1.5m back-projected stereo screen, moving in a straight line towards the player at a constant velocity. The player then has to prevent the cubes from impacting upon his or her head. The handle in form of a Wii remote is tracked using the optical tracking system, and the light saber blade is generated virtually and visually seems to be connected to the controller. When the sword touches a cube, the cube explodes and points are earned based on its size.

The optical tracking system was found to be suitable for the desired use in many respects, but in the current setup the tracking volume turned out to be too small for practical applications. The game formed a good demonstration of the possibilities and limitations of the OptiTrack system and provided much valuable experience with it.