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TrackIR 5 implementation frustrations

Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2014 2:45 pm
by Rectrix
Can someone please explain to me why it isn't possible to utilize the camera provided by the TrackIR 5 in other programs in order to accomplish head tracking in non supported games? I wasn't aware when I made the purchase that only games which are supported titles would accept TrackIR input. I was hoping to use it in, for example, Project Reality which is a Battlefield 2 mod. Although, the current implementation of 6dof head tracking relies on a 3rd party solution which requires input from a head tracking interface such as the one provided by Natural Point, but can't be used because it isn't officially supported? Although, you can use FaceTrackNoIR or FreeTrack in order to get it to work.

Fine I thought. I'm sure these other head tracking solutions can utilize the camera and still track the ProClip. I get it all setup, but the TrackIR 5 camera isn't listed as available devices! Why not? It would allow so much more flexibility with our TrackIR setups, providing high capture FPS and high resolution precising which Natural Point boasts about. The hardware and software is all present yet it isn't possible to use it? I originally thought I was buying a high quality build product which would provide me with all the capabilities of head tracking in which ever environment. Unless someone can inform me on the subject, I fooled myself.

Therefore, if it is indeed impossible to use the TrackIR 5 without the official interface, what I am left with? The current list of titles doesn't encompass all the games I wish to play with TrackIR. Although, interfaces such as FreeTrack have a solution for all the games Natural Point supports and can implement itself in far more than the 165 titles. Should I return my TrackIR 5 but keep the ProClip and simply purchase a high quality IR camera for the same $150 ?

I simply don't know. I am incredibly frustrated with my purchase. Hopefully someone can answer me with an official statement, I'll make my decision then.

Re: TrackIR 5 implementation frustrations

Posted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 12:25 pm
by Seth Steiling
Hi Rectrix,

Thanks for taking the time to articulate your concerns. I'll do my best to explain what TrackIR can and cannot offer you, as well as the reasoning behind the "cannots."

Regarding software/hardware interoperability:

TrackIR hardware is only compatible with TrackIR software, in part because it's more than just a camera. It's also an image processor that is tightly integrated with the software interface in terms of how it solves the reflective dots/LEDs into 3D head data. Both components together form the complete data processing pipeline.

Having said that, the tracking solver isn't necessarily married to the data stream, and that is what impacts how a game might or might not support TrackIR.

Regarding the data stream, and more specifically, how it can be piped into "non-supported" games:

The main obstacle that we (in addition to the software you mentioned) encounter when a developer doesn't integrate head tracking officially is that true head tracking integration necessarily involves the separation of view control from aim/orientation control. (Unfortunately, game devs have traditionally bound view control and aim control extremely tightly, with a host of dependencies—e.g. mini map orientation, directional audio, art asset modeling/texturing, HUD rendering, etc.—piled on top of the fundamental assumption that they will be bound.)

In short, games that don't natively support head tracking often are not very friendly toward it being modded in after the fact.

(The good news on this front is that game devs are increasingly clued in on VR, and I expect to see more of them implement freelook—whether via head tracking or other input—as VR gains more ground.)

When faced with this obstacle, you can take a couple of paths around it:

1) Use mouse emulation or keyboard emulation to approximate both the tracking and control experience that native head tracking provides. This isn't ideal, as it's going to be both less responsive and less accurate. It also requires that the game has sufficiently flexible keybinding options. But, it is the most straightforward way to get into some titles with acceptable results.

TrackIR has a mouse emulation utility, and keyboard emulation is available via a community developed plugin which is linked on our website.

2) Force the view control apart from aiming via a memory scanning hack. When successful, this will often result in a good experience in terms of responsiveness and accuracy, but it can have some significant downsides, including: UI functionality being broken, being flagged as a modded game by anti-cheat (resulting in kicks or bans), being patched around by devs (deliberately or accidentally), and just generally not being appreciated by developers in some cases. :-)

Regarding games supported via those other head tracking interfaces:

You said that they support far more titles in addition to those that they support via our TrackIR API. I'm not aware of this being the case, and I just referenced their game list to confirm. If there are titles with their API specifically integrated, which don't support TrackIR, please do post them and I'll see what we can do to remedy that.

My hunch is that most of the non-TrackIR-API supported titles that you have alluded to are actually just supported via emulation, like I talked about above. In that case, TrackIR should offer the same functionality via our mouse emulation or third-party keyboard mapping tool.

Regarding Project Reality specifically:

We were in discussion with the PR team on officially integrating TrackIR, but the dev that we were working with left the team. After that happened, the next contact we had struggled to piece together how to implement TrackIR on BF's end, so it fizzled out. However, that was some time ago. I'll investigate this again and see if we can strike up a conversation with their dev team on giving it another go. :-)

- Seth

Re: TrackIR 5 implementation frustrations

Posted: Mon Dec 29, 2014 5:36 pm
by Rectrix
Thank you for replying with such a lengthy and detailed post. I'll go right ahead and search for the mouse emulation/keyboard emulation. I do know of the one which can be found in the TrackIR software folder, although this one requires you to have it focused in order to function, so I do hope your referring to a different emulator. Other than that, it'd be interesting to see if something could come out of the whole Project Reality ordeal. Though, I highly doubt anything will.

Re: TrackIR 5 implementation frustrations

Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 11:33 am
by Seth Steiling
Hi Rectrix,

That is indeed the mouse emulation utility that I was referring to. I'm not too clear on what you mean by the need to have it focused to function. If you could elaborate a bit more on what the issue is, our support team will take over in helping troubleshoot.

You can find the keyboard mapping utility here:

There are also a couple of joystick emulators out there that you might look into: (not sure that he has an installer up there at the moment, so you might need to dig around on the Google machine for that)