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Sony targets VTubers with latest motion tracking gadget

  • Sony has announced the launch of motion capture wearables to make it more accessible for people to become “VTuber” streamers.
  • Called “Mocopi”, the light sensors attach to your arms, feet, body and head and track movements without the use of a base station, and can apparently be used outside.
  • While most VTubers use expensive and tedious hardware for motion tracking, Sony’s Mocopi is set to retail for around R6 000 and is easy to use through a smartphone app.

The VTubers phenomenon emerged as if from the ether and has become a popular medium for streamers to differentiate themselves from the masses.

Using motion tracking technology and green screens to stream gaming as a usually anime-like character has brought significant attention to streamers like Gawr Gura, who has 4.24 million subscribers on YouTube.

However, the process to become a VTuber is not an easy one. Apart from the hardware and software that these streamers need to become adept in, and expensive motion capture suits, they also require 2D and 3D artists to design their characters. These requirements have been the main barriers to more VTubers emerging, and this is where Sony has identified an opportunity.

To make motion capture easier for future VTubers, Sony is launching Mocopi – a portmanteau of “motion” and “copy”. These sensors that attach to your head, wrists, hip, and ankles connect to your smartphone and make virtual motion capture seamless, according to Sony.

Sony says Mocopi is a “game changer” for VTubers. The trailer for the gadgets shows how a person can transfer their movements into an avatar, but the actual process seems to be a bit more nuanced.

The gadgets are being marketed towards VTubers through an accompanying smartphone app that allows users to match their movements to a 3D model inside the application.

This movement data can then be sent to VRChat and Unity, reports Dexerto, which many VTubers use as the basis of their motion tracking. The devices don’t require base stations either, they simply track movement in real-time.

Accordingly, the devices could also probably be used for live motion capture in “metaverse” platforms, like VRChat and similar, but Meta would probably not like Sony’s technology anywhere near Horizon Worlds.

The sensors are superlight at 8 grams each. They are compact and fit into a small case for easy travelling. If Mocopi is able to provide accurate 3D tracking at a fraction of the cost of existing hardware then this could indeed be the industry game changer Sony says it is.

This is echoed by VTuber streaming company CTO MowtenDoo on Twitter, who said, “We use enterprise-level tracking stuff mostly, but this (assumedly) lowers the cost of entry for mocap/3D VTubing by a lot and makes it more accessible.”

Some VTubers have heaped praises on the devices, such as Mao, who says that the Mocopi can even be used outside.

Sony’s Mocopi is expected for a late January 2023 release date and will retail for around $360 or ~R6 133.11.

South Africa has a small but growing population of VTubers and even its own VTuber agency (which has unfortunately been accused of misconduct), but as the product seems to be entirely marketed in Japanese it will probably launch in the Asian country before moving into the US and then the rest of the world.

Those looking to start VTubing locally with the gadgets should probably consider importing it, rather than waiting for Mocopi to launch in SA.

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