FOR-A is bringing to market Koala, an innovative approach to camera tracking. The device, designed and built by FOR-A Europe and available in Europe, makes high-quality live augmented reality production a practical proposition for broadcast, corporate, and events applications.
Successful augmented reality and live virtual studio applications depend on knowing exactly what the camera is “seeing”, so that the computer-generated elements are aligned and will move as the camera moves. In the past, this has been accomplished either mechanically – which needs a dedicated head – or optically, which requires targets on the walls or ceiling plus a spotter camera mounted alongside the production camera. In either case, the system needs extensive alignment before shooting can start.
Koala eliminates these constraints. The compact unit clips onto any camera – like a koala hugs a tree – and is instantly delivering orientation data. That means no delays for calibration, and users are free to pick the camera and pan and tilt head that suits their production needs. For rental companies, there is no need to hold stock of expensive specialist equipment that may have low utilisation.
The standard Koala generates high-precision pan and tilt information, along with zoom and focus settings from digital lenses or through external encoders. The primary application will be for cameras on tripods, but with an additional option, it can also generate XYZ positional information when used on a crane.
The unit is completely self-contained, and even delivers the tracking data – in the industry-standard FreeD protocol – over Wifi. It can also be connected to the graphics engine over ethernet or serial port, so no special cables are needed.
“Augmented reality is getting very popular for events and presentations, alongside the growing use in live broadcasting,” said Fabio Varolo, Sales Manager at FOR-A Italy. “Koala is going to be transformative because it is simple to implement, needs no calibration, and is very cost-effective. Now you can create stunning live content with virtual environments, quickly and easily.”
See Koala in action on the ClassX stand at IBC, 7.A16, RAI Amsterdam, 15 – 18 September.