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Next-generation gaming suit gets Patent approval
Sep '11
Medibotics' U.S. patent 7,980,141 for Motion Recognition Clothing (MRC) has been approved. MRC is an innovative technology for translating body motion into computer-readable signals that could power the next generation of full-body game controllers. The market for translating body motion into computer-readable signals is already very large. For example, over 10 million units of an existing camera-based full-body game controller system have been sold. With further development, MRC could be used for a variety of applications including not only computer gaming, but also virtual reality in general, sports training, medical therapy, virtual exercise, weight management, and telerobotics.

Motion Recognition Clothing (MRC) integrates air-filled or fluid-filled tubes into clothing that longitudinally spans multiple body joints and then uses changes in the pressures within these tubes, as they bend, to measure the motion of these body joints. Multiple tubes can span each joint. The results capture human posture and motion. Although MRC is not yet a commercially-available product, preliminary prototyping results are promising.

Medibotics has tested different tube diameters, wall thicknesses, durometers, and materials (eg. latex, silicone, EPDM, polyurethane) and found that non-linear functions of changes in tube pressures are highly correlated with changes in the angles of the human joints that the tubes span. Medibotics also measured the dynamic gait of a knee in motion during a 1-MPH walk, 2-MPH walk, 5-MPH run, and 6-MPH run. They achieved gait results that are similar to those in the biomechanics literature.

The use of Motion Recognition Clothing (MRC) technology for full-body game control could have several advantages over current camera-based full-body game control technology. For example, when used with a mobile transmitter, MRC can be portable. MRC could be used almost anywhere… jogging outdoors, playing golf, and even swimming. MRC does not require that users to remain in front of a stationary camera. MRC can also be used with multiple users who interact and overlap. MRC does not require a direct line-of-sight between users and a camera. Also, MRC can measure small-scale body motion, such as that of fingers, in a manner that is not possible with camera-based systems that only recognize large-scale skeletal configurations.

In general, MRC can have advantages over other competing motion recognition technologies in terms of: freedom of motion; ambulatory use; washable clothing; freedom from occlusion; real time use; lower cost; body safety; durability; and high/low motion scale. However, one motion recognition sub-market in which MRC would not likely compete is in high-end "Motion Capture" systems used for animating figures in motion pictures (such as Gollum in "The Lord of the Rings"). Film makers spend a lot for high-precision systems with multiple cameras and facial motion recognition technology. It is unlikely that MRC would provide the level of facial motion precision required by this sub-market.

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