With Smartgloves, Rokoko has released a new motion capture glove system that offers a simple and very inexpensive hand-mo-cap solution. Available for pre-order from as little as $ 895, the gloves offer a new powerful option for live and standard motion capture. While the Rococo Gloves naturally work with the Rococo Smartsuit Pro, they are designed to be integrated with a range of modern MoCap suits.
Note the complex finger arrangement
While people have been enjoying wireless motion detection suits with embedded sensors for some time, especially systems like Rococo and X-sens which are powerful tools for detecting body motion, there is a certain void in the market for affordable, reliable motion detection gloves. In high-end large-scale capture volume systems, it was possible to capture finger movements (see example Vicon / UE4 / Shogun below), but these are expensive high-end solutions. The problem of finger movement is extremely difficult due to occlusion, scaling, and the complexity of hand movements that people enjoy. So far there has been a real problem with independent filmmakers and researchers who had many options for lightweight, affordable systems with a small footprint.
A high-end Vicon marking solution that enables complex finger movements including interdigitated fingers.
We recently tested the new Rococo Smartgloves in the Greenscreen Tech Lab. And for the price, we were very impressed. They're easy to wear, pretty accurate, and far cheaper than almost any other option. There are several companies looking to make the next generation of gloves now, including StretchSense (MoCap Pro SuperSplay) and Manus Prime II. Both of these new glove options are extremely interesting on their own, but cost more than $ 3,500. The Rococo Smartgloves account for a quarter of that price. We rated it as "fairly accurate" because the problem is extremely complex and large volumes of data are still the gold standard for high-end work. However, the Smartgloves offer as much as they are easy to use, easy to integrate, and most to offer, which is certainly desired for any live application. Most importantly, the gloves are a huge improvement in realism in character work. Even though some later animation work might be required when using the gloves for complex animated hand movements such as playing the piano, many users will find the gloves' raw performance remarkably useful. The hands are so expressive in any character work and it's hard to imagine that someone with a suit wouldn't want a pair of these new groundbreaking new gloves.
There are 7 x 6 degrees of freedom sensors per glove that operate at 400 Hz and are powered by a remote USB battery attached to your hands. The company can't ship the batteries internationally, so we bought a simple pair of USB Jackery Power2Go power banks for $ 40. We used the included long version of the USB cables so I could put the batteries in my pockets and thread the cables in my shirt up to my hands. This is important as it is nice to move the weight of the batteries away from your hands so as not to interfere with your movement. The glove sensors sit on the back of the hand and the back of the fingers, but the fingertips are not covered. The main support is made of polyamide and spandex.
The inside of the gloves is like normal real leather gloves. The gloves are very comfortable but are worth spending your time getting the right size. They are available in sizes S, M, L and XL (unisex). They should be worn tightly to ensure the sensors do not slip.
You may need padding under the sensors for extended use while they are comfortable. After a while, the hard plastic can rub against the back of the hand. These motion trackers do not contain magnetometers and are therefore immune to magnetic distortion. There is a simple calibration configuration, and then they should stay in 3D orientation accuracy ± 1 degree.
We have found that over time, a small drift builds up that needs to be recalibrated every 15 minutes when doing detailed work. Calibration is simple, but systems like this do not have an absolute position without the benefit of an active acquisition volume, so some drift can actually be expected. The nice thing is that the system can be configured to allow plausible arm movement when you are not using a suit at all – as might be the case with a VR application.
We tampered with our gloves to provide data for the Rokoko Studio Live, which was then streamed on UE4. It worked remarkably well. The acid test with data gloves touches the thumb with each finger (the classic "opposite thumb"), since there is no sensor at the end of your actual fingers. This is mathematically complex to solve for the system. The gloves showed a very solid result, all but my smallest finger reliably looked as if they were touching properly.
Counter finger and thumb test
Depending on your character's rigging, problems with aligning the neural pose and joint alignment may arise. I admit we have an Xsens suit and not a Rococo suit, but the Rokoko team has commented that the gloves should not only be "suit-independent" for owners of their Rococo suit. For this purpose there will be an explicit X-Sens suit configuration in the near future.
The range of the WiFi should be 100 m. We never got close to that distance to test this in the Greenscreen lab. So we never had any problems with the failure. The gloves stream at 100 fps, which is important. Lower fps would produce much less useful sampling and possibly jerky motion.
In terms of plugins, the company supports Unreal, Unity, Blender, Maya, MoBu, and Houdini. We just tested it with UE4 and the Rococo app.
The only negative is that the gloves are not washable. This means that any long project, like game development, you want people to have their own gloves. You could disinfect them with wipes, but at this price point it would make sense to give each their own set.
Summary: We loved them, we have been waiting for a cheap, solid and reliable glove and we expect these will sell out very quickly. While the company is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the gloves are made, some electronic components come from Asia. The company doesn't expect any supply chain issues, but in this COVID world all of shipping and trading is a bit stressed. In short: you have a winner in hand.
Rococo is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, and has teams in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Athens
The Rococo launch video: