Thales Shows Vision-Inertial Tracking Technology for MR

Thales bought the tracking company InterSense awhile back and it was this group that we met with at I/ITSEC 2016. They showed us a new product, dubbed IS-1500, that is designed to help with mixed reality applications in areas where you can’t get a GPS signal.

Historically, InterSense has offered opto-intertial tracking units. One example they were highlighting was the placement of the sensor and inertial unit on the top of a pilot’s helmet and the placement of fiducial marks on the inside of the canopy. That allows the position of the pilot’s head to be tracked accurately when in the cockpit.

But in the real world, it is not practical to place fiducial marks at known location. As a result, the IS-1500 uses what InterSense calls Natural Feature Tracking (NFT). What that means is that using the camera, they process the image looking for corners, intersecting lines and edges in the video. Once identified, a square marker is placed on them, locking their location.

The team then used a tablet with the IS-1500 attached to it (photo) to demonstrate how they can walk around this environment using the inertial tracking and leaving “breadcrumbs” or markers along the way. The idea is that should be able to help build a crude 3D model of the space allowing virtual objects to be placed near markers and locked in that position and orientation. It may also be useful for robotic navigation applications in GPS-denied environments.

This is similar to what a RealSense camera or Hololens system can do but with lower fidelity. These systems also don’t work well outdoors, whereas the IS-1500 will. Thales says the system is accurate to 1% of the distance traveled. – CC