Sony brings affordable body tracking to VRChat and Meta Quest

Sony brings affordable body tracking to VRChat and Meta Quest

Sony’s “Mocopi” sensors make body tracking more affordable for Quest and PC. They are suitable for VRChat or animations in Unity, for example.

Virtual reality equipment for full-body tracking can quickly reach four-digit purchase prices. This is especially true when using Valve’s Lighthouse tracking. HTC’s Vive trackers (around $130 each) or the Tundra trackers (three-pack: around $360) strap to the arms and legs, recording exact body movements and reproducing them in social PC apps like VRChat.

Sony will offer the cheaper alternative Mocopi in Japan from January 2023. Users strap six small tracking “pucks” to their arms and ankles, hips, and a headband. The trackers connect to a smartphone app, which sends the movement data to the PC or Meta Quest 2 (review). Both of those systems support the popular social app VRChat.

Affordable full-body tracking from Sony

So far, however, Mocopi has only been announced in Japan. There, it costs 49,500 yen – around $357. On the official Japanese website, interested parties can be notified by mail for details on the sales launch. It is unclear whether the solution will also be released in the West later on. At least you can activate translated subtitles in the following trailer.

Unlike the aforementioned Lighthouse trackers, Mocopi’s 3DOF sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope) alone should not enable accurate spatial tracking. Together with data from VR headset and controllers, the results could still be convincing in social apps.

The technology also sounds reasonable for applications like simple motion capturing. Promotional materials already list development engines Unity, Autodesk Motion Builder (character animations), and Virtual Motion Capture (VMC) as compatible apps. The latter helps with mixed reality videos in Beat Saber – or if you want to livestream as a virtual “VTube” avatar.

Once the six magnetic sensors snap onto the straps or hip connector, Bluetooth setup and calibration via smartphone app begins. Sony apparently once again takes a special path in terms of compatibility. The website only lists iPhones and Android phones from Sony (Android 11/iOS 15.7.1 or higher) among supported devices for now.

An AI prediction is responsible for calculating the correct locations of elbows and other non-tracked body parts. The first presentation videos even demonstrate wild lunges and breakdancing interludes. The avatars shown reproduce the real movements quite authentically.

VRChat support for Quest (2) and PCVR

The smartphone app forwards the OSC tracker data to the PC via the Wi-Fi network, explains VRChat developer “Kung” in a tweet.

The popular social app also announced Mocopi compatibility for Quest 2 and PC-VR on Twitter. This means that Mocopi users will be able to express themselves in VRChat with precise gestures without moving much extra weight.

The “pucks weigh less than a fifth of a pound each and measure 1.25 by 0.45 inches. A USB charging station is included. According to Sony, one charge lasts around ten hours. Their use could become interesting, especially with the Quest Pro (review). Meta’s new premium headset could add face and eye tracking for natural gestures and facial expressions of online avatars.

Sources: Offizielle Website (japanisch), Twitter (1, 2)