Sony targets VTubers with latest motion tracking gadget

  • Sony has announced the launch of motion capture wearables to make it easier for people to access “VTuber” streamers.
  • Dubbed ‘Mocopi’, the light sensors attach to the arms, feet, body and head and track movements without the use of a base station and can apparently be used outdoors.
  • While most VTubers use expensive and tedious hardware for motion tracking, Sony’s Mocopi sells for around R6,000 and is easy to use via a smartphone app.

The phenomenon of VTubers popped up out of the air and has become a popular medium for streamers to stand out from the crowd.

Using motion-tracking technology and green screens to stream games as a usually anime-like character has garnered significant attention from streamers like Gawr Gura, who has 4.24 million subscribers on YouTube.

However, the process of becoming a VTuber is not easy. Aside from the hardware and software these streamers need to get by and expensive motion capture suits, they also need 2D and 3D artists to design their characters. These demands have been the main obstacles to the emergence of more VTubers, and this is where Sony saw an opportunity.

To make motion capture easier for future VTubers, Sony is launching Mocopi – a portmanteau of “movement” and “copy”. These sensors, which attach to your head, wrists, hips and ankles, connect to your smartphone and enable seamless virtual motion capture, according to Sony.

According to Sony, Mocopi is a “game changer” for VTubers. The trailer for the gadgets shows how a person can translate their movements into an avatar, but the actual process seems a bit more nuanced.

The gadgets will be marketed to VTubers via a companion smartphone app that will allow users to match their movements to a 3D model within the application.

This movement data can then be sent to VRChat and Unity, reports Dexerto, which many VTubers use as the basis of their movement tracking. The devices also do not require base stations, they simply track movement in real time.

Accordingly, the devices could probably also be used for live motion capture in “Metaverse” platforms like VRChat and the like, but Meta probably wouldn’t like Sony’s tech anywhere near Horizon Worlds.

The sensors are super light at 8 grams each. They are compact and fit in a small suitcase for easy travel. If Mocopi is able to provide accurate 3D tracking at a fraction of the cost of existing hardware, then this could indeed be the industry game-changer Sony says.

This is confirmed by the CTO of streaming company VTuber MowtenDoo on Twitterwho said, “We mainly use enterprise-level tracking stuff, but this (supposedly) lowers the entry-level cost of mocap/3D vtubing significantly and makes it more accessible.”

Some VTubers have heaped praise on the devices, such as Mao, who says the Mocopi can even be used outdoors.

Sony’s Mocopi is expected in late January 2023 and will retail for around $360 or ~R6133.11.

South Africa has a small but growing population of VTubers and even has its own VTuber agency (who unfortunately has been accused of misconduct), but since the product appears to be marketed entirely in Japanese, it’s likely to be launched in the Asian country before making its way to the US and then the rest of the world.

Those who want to start VTubing locally with the gadgets should probably consider importing it instead of waiting for Mocopi to start in SA.