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Start-up launches crowdfunding campaign to market their 3D motion capture suit

  Photo: Chordata Motion

Photo: Chordata Motion

Open source technology offered to a range of sectors, including entertainment, rehabilitation, sports analysis and science

Thanks to digital technology, 21st-century cinema is able to breathe life into its characters as though they were made of flesh and blood. Fantastical monsters and heroes are made to move just like real humans on the big screen thanks to technologies like the one developed by Chordata Motion, which specializes in motion capture for 3D viewing. This is also known as "mocap", and until very recently this technology was beyond the reach of anyone but major film production companies and the video game industry. Now, with the UOC's support, Chordata Motion is hoping to offer this emerging technology to users and companies that need an accessible solution to their visualization needs in a wide range of areas, including sports, rehabilitation and scientific research. With the aim of producing and marketing its product, the start-up has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, a platform used for funding projects of this nature.

 

Open source and adaptable technology

Chordata Motion makes motion capture possible thanks to a suit featuring sensors that are fastened to the body and the use of a micro-computer. "Our product is aimed at individuals and companies that need to flexibly capture the movement of a human, animal or object," said Juancho Casaas, the start-up's CEO. He added that "we are also geared towards big companies that need to integrate motion capture with specialist software."

The UOC's entrepreneurship platform Hubbik is lending its support to the company. In fact, the company first presented its project as part of the 2019 SpinUOC programme and was one of the winners. Chordata Motion claims that its technology is "the first open source motion capture suit on the market and offers a greater degree of customization than other products". What's more, thanks to all the research and development of this technology they have been working on since 2018, it is now possible to capture movement directly from your mobile phone. As Casaas put it, "With nothing more than a phone and the motion capture suit, users will be able to register movements in 3D without the need for a computer". He also pointed out that, "As the technology is open source, users will have complete control over it and be able to adapt our software to their project's specific needs at no additional cost". Besides this, the suit presented by the company is modular, meaning each customer can deploy the exact number of sensors they need for their project, and as well as capture human motion, it can also be used with animals and objects.

 

Adapting their campaign to the post-pandemic world

The Barcelona-based start-up had hoped to launch this technology at the end of March 2020, but given the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, they were forced to postpone. Throughout the lockdown, the team has been working remotely on reformulating the project to adapt it to the new health emergency and economic crisis. The technology's flexibility allowed them to reformulate the hardware of the kits offered as part of the campaign rewards and align it with users' technical and economic needs in the coming post-pandemic society. This redesign has allowed them to maintain the most valued features of their kits, while reducing their campaign reward costs by €100 and making it much more affordable for users in this new context of economic recession caused by COVID-19.

 

Putting its faith in crowdfunding

"As well as getting our product at a special price," Chordata Motion's CEO explained, "people supporting this co-production campaign will be ensuring that our technology continues to be open source, meaning that we can carry on working on its development transparently. In effect, the data generated by the capture are the customer's property, which means they can access and modify the software according to their needs." This is just one of the ways the company is showing its commitment to user empowerment and democratizing access to technology.

Chordata Motion has said that the money it raises will go towards manufacturing the hardware, developing a flexible, modular textile fixing system to ensure the sensors grip to the body and obtaining product certification for European and United States' standards, all of which will allow them to commercialize the suit. Alongside the crowdfunding campaign, the company has also been working for months on finishing developing software that allows users to capture movement on their smartphone, as well as integrating it with video game engines such as Unity, Unreal and Godot. All these improvements form part of their technological road map and can be seen in more detail on their website.

The campaign began on Kickstarter on the first of July and has already reached 35.000 euros. However, Juancho Casaas has also said that "if we reach €50,000, the sensors and hubs will be produced using a black solder mask, and if we reach €100,000, we will add two extra sensors to each reward, offering users an even better set-up for human motion capture". If they manage to raise as much as €200,000, Chordata Motion will develop facial recognition software that integrates seamlessly with the motion capture suit.

UOC R&I 

The UOC's research and innovation (R&I) are helping 21st-century global societies to overcome pressing challenges by studying the interactions between ICT and human activity, with a specific focus on e-learning and e-health. Over 400 researchers and 48 research groups work among the University's seven faculties and three research centres: the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), the eLearn Center (eLC) and the eHealth Center (eHC).

The United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and open knowledge serve as strategic pillars for the UOC's teaching, research and innovation. More information:research.uoc.edu.

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Juancho Casaas

CEO of Chordata Motion

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