Sixense Kickstarts next-gen motion controller for video games, VR


— 10:45 AM on September 12, 2013

Sixense is responsible for the motion tracking technology inside Razer's Hydra controller. Now, the company is taking to Kickstarter to fund a new controller based on a modular version of the same tech.

The STEM System, as it's called, is capable of tracking up to five sensor modules independently. Those modules can be slotted into Hydra-style controllers or popped into packs designed to clip onto your body. The controllers and packs are wireless, so users won't get tangled up when immersed in VR, and they also offer haptic feedback, likely via rumble motors.

Like the Hydra, the STEM System boasts precise position and orientation tracking. The tracking is good enough to detect movements of just a few millimeters and orientation changes of less than two degrees. Sixense promises drift-free tracking and less than 10 milliseconds of latency, as well.

Each STEM System's base station has an effective tracking radius of eight feet, and you can extend that range by adding more base stations. Because the underlying technology relies on magnetic fields, it doesn't require line of sight.

The Kickstarter campaign is seeking $250,000 in funding before October 12, and it will surely reach that goal. In just a few hours, 677 backers have pledged over $169,000. More than half of the early-bird bundles, which include two trackers, two controllers, and one base station for $149, are gone already. When those run out, you'll have to pledge $199 for the same package. Early backers can reserve a five-sensor kit suitable for VR tracking for $349. Sixense expects pre-production units to be ready by April next year, with final versions shipping to backers in July.

Here's the official pitch:

The Razer Hydra never really caught on with PC gamers, so I'm curious to see if the STEM System fares better with that audience. At the very least, it should be popular with the VR crowd that Kickstarted the Oculus Rift headset.

   
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