Track IR3 Pro
Having flown flight simulators for a lot of years (even back in the BBC and Atari days) it's always been a compromise on personal game settings. Looking at a 2D screen limits the amount of information you collect on a subconscious level, spatial awareness is very limited compared to the ‘real' world. This is more so when flying combat sims, basically you see what your looking at, sounds a bit silly but the lack of peripheral vision for me is a real handicap. Looking at your virtual world through a ‘hat' switch or padlock view just doesn't work for me, this is compounded when I have to fly full cockpit mode…
So came along cam2pan, a poor mans Track IR which worked reasonably well for what it was, a web cam and an idiot with a LED strapped to his head. I had experience of the early Track IR systems and when setup right in the correct lighting conditions seemed to work adequately for a time but I felt they were a little bit temperamental.
Then Track IR3 Pro was released, the reviews were very good so I decided to buy one and after two minutes of using it I was very impressed, straight out of the box into a game without a problem.
The sensor head of Track IR is small, I mean small, the stand it sits on is bigger.
The quality seems very good, a nice clear plastic case containing a very nicely made pcb and electronics, the metal base is already attached to the main sensor and a plastic clip that the base can be clipped into for acurate repositioning should you need to move the sensor. A set of reflective dots of varying sizes are also enclosed, the idea being you attached one of these reflective dots to some part of you head to allow the sensor to follow your head movement.
Initially I attached one of the small reflective dots to my glasses, within the software you can monitor what the sensor 'see's' and even using a small reflective dot the sensor picked it up without a problem producing a bright green dot in the monitor window.
The software and manual come on a CD, install the drivers first then plug in the Track IR and that's it…The software contains ‘profiles' for most of the popular games allowing Track IR to be used straight out of the box. The manual is also installed at the same time as the drivers, maybe I'm one of those odd ball people but I did read the manual before using the hardware, there is a good section on customising the response of Track IR, namely the ability to program in a ‘dead zone' so that views forward are rock steady and a positive movement of your head is needed to change the view.
The curve editor enables you to adjust the sensitivity of the software, each dot on the curve shown above is moveable up or down.
Moving the dots alters the relationship between your head movement and the 'on-screen' movement, lowering the dots means that as you turn your head left and right your on-screen view changes more slowly, likewise, moving the dots upwards gives more on-screen movement for little head movement.
Each side of the curve can be adjusted individually, an example of when you may need to use this option is Nascar racing, being a predominately oval racing circuit, there is more need to turn your head for a left view than there is for a right view, otherwise, leave the mirror box checked and both side will alter equally.
You can see the effect in the ‘gauges' panel, the yellow bar is head movement and the yellow bar is screen movement.
The ‘head' panel gives you the same information but presented in a different manor.
Track IR3 Pro as standard is a 2D system, left/right and up/down. There is a software add on you can get that adds X, Y, Z into the equation, put simply, in 2D mode, if you turn or tilt your head left, your view goes left and visa versa, in the 6D mode if you tilt your head nothing happens, the software is smart enough to recognise your just moving body position.
I bought the standard version as I don't think I have any need for the Z or zoom axis, I'm always rocking in my chair and the zoom function would be working overtime.
Even in the standard version the tracking is enhanced, it's not a simple follow the dot type of tracking, unlike the early versions, where you moved your head to far your centre point would move from the centre of the screen, this software knows where your head is, once you set your centre point you can get up and move around, sitting back in front of the sensor again and your centre point is still in the same place you programmed it to be.
Some software is Track IR enabled, and some is also compatable with the 6D mode
below is a list of current tiles that take advantage of Track IR functions.
Further information is available from www.naturalpoint.com .
I ordered my Track IR from R/C Simulations in Bristol UK
Fast and friendly service.