The world of motion capture gets a lot of publicity. Ask anyone if they have seen the latest Hollywood blockbuster and they will probably know motion capture was used in its making. And while the VFX stories are impressive, I believe the real story of motion capture is greater than most realize.
The real motion capture difference
Several years ago I had a brief conversation with Imogen Moorhouse, Vicon’s CEO. I had recently joined the company and wanted to better understand how motion capture technology was used for gait analysis. She asked if I wanted to attend Gillette Children’s Gait and Motion Analysis Clinic so I jumped at the chance.
During one of the sessions we were given case studies of different children being treated. One in particular was a child who had to use a walker at school and couldn’t play with his friends. He was given the opportunity to go through the gait analysis evaluation, was treated, and then was finally able to play with his friends. I will never forget how life changing that was for the little boy. It was certainly a pivotal moment for me that stayed with me during my time at Vicon.
Unique challenges for gait labs
I found a few recurring themes within the gait community as I gained more exposure to these worlds and the unique challenges they faced. First, was a constant drive for greater patient satisfaction and engagement. Patient satisfaction brings continued referrals to the labs, and a greater level of patient engagement leads to better data collection. Additionally, the labs are constantly being shown to administration teams, potential donors and others, but don’t have a way to easily show off the capabilities of the motion capture technology.
It became clear there was a huge gap between motion capture in the VFX world that people generally know and understand, and the life science and engineering fields - but there didn’t need to be. In recent years, technology development has come on leaps and bounds, as well as the ease with which quality animation can now be achieved. It was time to bridge the gap between these different worlds.
Bridging the gap
This is why we began Idoneus Digital. Our first product, Argonaut, seamlessly integrates the motion capture data in real time into selectable animated characters and environments and then records the “performance” so the patients can take home their own “movie” to share with friends and family.
The Center for Gait and Movement Analysis at Children’s Hospital Colorado were thrilled to be part of our first project and have been a tremendous help so far. This special relationship has helped shape Argonaut and will continue to do so in its future evolution.
It was through this partnership that we began to see how much more could be done to tell the story of these labs. We found that not only did marketing departments begin to look at new ways of creating promotional content, but other departments began to think of different applications for the labs and the technology - from VR experiences to interactive environments. An entire world is being unlocked and it has been an extreme privilege to see it taking shape.
However, as with any project of this scope, as you get into the details of development, logistics, etc. it can be easy to lose focus of why the company was started and for whom we are actually creating this for. Fortunately, I was given a reminder in early September while installing the final configuration at Children’s Hospital Colorado. We were preparing for the first “official” patient when she walked into the room and asked, “Can I really be a princess?” Without hesitation I answered, “of course. You can even be a princess on Mars if you like.” And with an incredulous look she replied, “no, princesses are in castles”. She was quite right of course, princesses deserve to be in castles.