3D Head Tracking In Games

A long time ago, someone came up with an idea to track head movements in a game, and it was very popular. The company, Naturalpoint, marketed this. Combined with the then-revolutionary 3D glasses, it transformed how flight sim games were, and still are, played.

Yeah well now I don’t use 3D glasses anymore because I no longer use a CRT monitor. 3D glasses work best with CRT monitors, due to the refresh rates you can set on them. LCD monitors typically are only 60hz or 72hz at best. CRT monitors can go up to 120hz or more. Higher frequency means less “blinking” on your 3D glasses and thus, alleviating headaches after prolonged use.

The TrackIR is still in use today by games other than just flight sims. For example, the game Armed Assault supports this natively, meaning you can go into the configurations page of the game and select which options are to be triggered by the TrackIR device. Most people, including myself, configured this for turning the soldier’s head independently of the body. That means now you can “peek around corners” realistically. In other FPS shooters, you can also use TrackIR to replace the “Q” and “E” keys for peeking if they are available (such as in GRAW).

In any case, recently I stumbled across this post here on Rudy’s blog. What I was amazed by is how the simple invention of the Wii console has spawned a branch of research into gaming controls. If you watch the video on that post in Rudy’s blog, you can see that the guy has done what Naturalpoint did for $50 or less. Well, $50 in addition to having a Wii console 🙂

Before you guys say it’s stupid to turn your head in real life while playing a game – yes you can STILL see the screen. You only turn your head 1 or 2 cm. The TrackIR amplifies the turn and you turn in-game 45 or 180 degrees, depending on how smooth or sharp your head turned in real life. You can set the sensitivity yourself.

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