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Sony’s Metaverse Sensor Strategy

Sony has made it clear that it sees the metaverse as its next big market opportunity. They’ve been here since 2016 with its PSVR headsets acting as an accessory to the Playstation console. The first generation sold at least 5 million PSVR headsets, while the PSVR2 (released in early 2022) has barely crossed 1 million units sold.

For this reason, Sony is expanding its metaverse hardware offering.

Sony has launched its new miniature motion capture sensor, Mocopi. The sensors will enable Sony to offer more realistic motion capture without any wires.

The kit consists of six button-like tracking tags — one for your head, hip, both ankles, and both wrists — that use Bluetooth to pair with an Android or iOS smartphone app to input motion data to compatible services like Unity. Mocopi can [also] control a digital avatar in real time within metaverse applications like VR Chat. – The Verge

Affordable Motion Capture

Strictly on the consumer side, Mocopi should help make fitness, dancing, and other athletic activities in the metaverse more realistic. But I think the real benefit is for XR content creators.

You’ve probably seen videos of elaborate motion capture setups used in Hollywood to turn actors into 3D characters. Interestingly, they use a process called optical motion capture which basically uses a bunch of cameras to track reflective markers on the subject’s body. They prefer this method over body-worn sensors because it provides sub-millimeter accuracy, which is crucial for 9-figure productions on the silver screen.

But not every piece of animated, immersive content needs to be this accurate.

With Mocopi, Sony is essentially offering consumers a version of this motion capture technology that’s much cheaper, doesn’t require any wires, and is portable. At just $360, this makes sensor-based motion capture far more affordable than the hundreds of thousands of dollars required for a great optical motion capture setup.

Mocopi opens the door to a much broader range of content creators. Creating more detailed animations and immersive experiences in the metaverse will be much easier, paving the way for the next wave of brilliant XR content.

The Verge discusses how this will impact VTubers (virtual YouTubers), making it easy for those creators to animate their virtual influencers with their own movements. But this goes for anyone that desires to create animated metaverse content, whether that is designing games, shooting movies, or even vlogging in the metaverse.

The Entire Industry Will Benefit

Sony is making a play to power the motion capture of the metaverse by ingesting the most comprehensive amount of motion data. This is interesting because all of the XR hardware – from the Quest lineup to the HTC products to its own PSVR headsets – will rely on motion capture to make experiences feel more real.

Sony did this once before with mobile computing. Early on, they provided smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung with image sensors for their phone cameras. To this day, dozens of smartphone cameras from Apple to Google to Huawei and Samsung rely on Sony. Even the iPhone 15 is rumored to use a new Sony image sensor.

Sony has lots of experience and trust built up as an OEM provider, which means it’s not out of the question for them to dominate this crucial part of the metaverse. At the minimum, I think that their fourth-generation PSVR headset will be at the top of its class because of this motion input technology.