About this project
As of October 12, 2013 at 6:54 AM PDT, our STEM System Kickstarter project will be closed.
Thanks to all our backers! For information about pre-ordering the STEM System after the Kickstarter project go to sixense.com/STEM
We'll continue to post information about our progress via updates on Kickstarter.
The STEM System™ is a wireless, modular motion tracking platform for video games, virtual reality (VR), and more. It enables players to interact naturally and intuitively with games by tracking full position and orientation at all times, whether at the desktop or throughout the entire living room.
This the next big step in Sixense motion tracking technology, which has previously powered the Razer Hydra PC gaming controller, the input device of choice for developers of VR applications. Advancements for the STEM System include longer range, wireless operation, modular form factor, and better tracking performance at all ranges.
The STEM System will support up to five wireless motion tracking modules, or STEMs, for full position and orientation tracking of the head and hands, the entire body, or other configurations. You can also clip or strap a STEM to your body or any device you choose using a STEM Pack.
We will ship to Kickstarter backers a special edition for early adopters and developers that is feature-complete and functionally identical to the upcoming retail version. It is compatible with all types of displays, including VR head-mounted displays like the Oculus Rift and VR locomotion simulators like the Virtuix Omni.
In order to foster a robust developer community, the STEM System will be an open platform for creators of both software and hardware consumer products. Developers will be able to create games with virtually no restrictions and to embed STEMs for tracking of their own peripherals or wearable devices, such as swords, baseball bats or head-mounted displays. The modularity of the STEM System will give developers the flexibility and autonomy they need to create motion-tracked titles complete with motion-tracked peripherals of their own design.
The second-generation Sixense SDK takes advantage of the STEM System’s extended capabilities and also provides backward compatibility with products and games powered by earlier generations of Sixense motion tracking technology, including the Razer Hydra. The SDK is available for Windows, Mac OS and Linux.
We’re bringing the STEM System directly to you so that you can start developing as quickly as possible – integrating your existing games, creating new ones, and developing new hardware.
Support for Any Game
Sixense MotionCreator is a powerful software application that delivers motion gameplay to virtually any published PC game. It allows you to play using the natural, intuitive motion control provided by the STEM System. The game itself is never “aware” that any new device is being used to play the game since Sixense MotionCreator emulates the inputs for which the game was designed.
Hundreds of games are already supported by Sixense MotionCreator, so a huge catalog of titles for the STEM System will be available when it ships. Users can create profiles that convert the STEM System’s motion tracking, button, analog sticks, and analog triggers to mouse and keyboard commands. And anyone can use and customize Sixense MotionCreator, even those without game or software development skills. Sixense MotionCreator is available free to users of the STEM System.
The Sixense Tuscany Demo adds motion input to the standard Oculus Rift Tuscany demo. We modified the demo to demonstrate the STEM System's ability to drastically enhance the immersive experience delivered by VR applications. For the first time, this allows users to interact with the virtual world intuitively and naturally with their head, hands, and feet. No development experience is required to use the demo.
We will release the source code for the Sixense Tuscany Demo for all developers. It includes the following features to enable STEM System developers to quickly and easily add motion input to their own applications:
- Reference implementation for adding motion-tracked hands to a Unity VR application
- Full body avatar with inverse kinematics
- Example physics implementation for hands and feet
- Sixense Player Controller prefab decoupling the head from the body. Drag and drop into your scene
- Sixense Tuscany Demo scene
Kickstarter gives us an opportunity to directly engage a developer and enthusiast community who can help us build an ecosystem with great content. Almost every key feature decision for the STEM System is based on feedback that we’ve received from these very groups, and we’re always listening. Working together, we can ensure that the STEM System is what you want and that great applications will be available as soon as possible.
With Kickstarter backing, we will fund the final stages of development and the manufacturing of the units to be shipped to backers. The same product will enter mass production later for broader distribution.
Technology and Features
Sixense developed the electromagnetic motion tracking technology that is used in consumer products worldwide. The STEM System represents the next generation of this technology, with a new architecture that delivers longer range, lower latency, and better performance at all ranges.
Wireless motion tracking. Freedom of movement for any activity, from desktop competitive gaming to VR with full body tracking and locomotion.
Five tracking points. Allows tracking of all four limbs plus the head – or any other configuration.
Modular form factor. Each STEM is a standalone position and orientation tracker. It can be embedded in a STEM Controller, one of our STEM Packs, or other compatible peripheral.
Extended range. Optimized performance from the desktop to the living room, with an 8-foot radius (16-foot diameter) range from the Base.
Backward compatibility via the Sixense SDK. Uses an updated version of the Sixense SDK (for Windows, Mac OS and Linux) that also supports games and applications developed for the Razer Hydra.
Our technology uses an A/C electromagnetic field to determine the position and orientation of each STEM (up to five per system) relative to a stationary base. The STEM System allows an uninterrupted and consistent user experience unlike any other motion control system.
No drift. Because Sixense technology does not rely on inertial sensors (gyroscopes and accelerometers) for position tracking, the measured position of each STEM will not drift over time, whether you move quickly, slowly, or not at all.
Low latency. Patented Sixense latency technology is used in the STEM System – giving it the lowest latency of any wireless consumer motion control system.
One-to-one tracking. This means that the STEM System tracks both position and orientation on all three axes for each STEM. These data are very easy for developers to incorporate into software applications via the Sixense SDK.
No line of sight required between STEMs and the Base. You have the freedom to turn around, put the STEMs in your pockets or stand behind your couch – all without interrupting the tracking performance.
The STEM System we ship to Kickstarter backers will be a special edition for early adopters and developers but it will be functionally identical to the retail version. Note that we have different backer levels with different configurations of the components.
The key components of the STEM System that will ship to Kickstarter backers include the following:
We’re always listening to both users and developers and we’re working hard to ensure that all features in the STEM System help you develop faster and play better. We set the bar for performance to the highest consumer standards. Developers won’t be restricted in what they create and enthusiasts and early adopter backers will get the best possible motion control system.
Great for VR
Any distraction or intrusion from the "real world" degrades the virtual reality experience. Traditional input devices such as the mouse and keyboard or gamepad are unnatural in VR, serving as constant reminders to users of the world outside the virtual environment. Sixense-powered wired controllers, such as the Razer Hydra, provide that “Aha!” moment when the user puts on the VR headset, and then looks down and sees his or her virtual hands moving exactly as they do in real life.
Today’s rapidly growing community of VR developers realize that the controller needs to be improved in order to deliver the uninterrupted and immersive experience they’re after. The STEM System goes way beyond, freeing you from wires and opening up the entire living room.
What may change?
Industrial Design. Our first effort looks and feels great and will support accessories like swords and shields. As we finalize the internals and receive feedback from our backers we may need to make changes to ensure that the design allows for the best possible user experience. Aesthetics and ergonomics aside, the STEM System we’ll ship to our Kickstarter backers will function identically to the retail version.
We have completed design and testing of our core motion tracking architecture. Below are some key past and future milestones:
- November 2012 – STEM System Generation 1 completed.
- June 2013 – STEM System Generation 2 completed.
- November 2013 – STEM System Generation 3 board design completed.
- December 2013 – Industrial design completed.
- January 2014 – Playable system prototype.
- April 2014 – Pre-production units for testing and quality assurance.
- July 2014 – Ship date to Kickstarter backers.
Our core goal in founding Sixense was to develop the ideal motion-tracking platform and make it affordable for gamers. We like the word “ideal” because we believe that there is always room to improve the technology toward this goal. Since day one, we’ve been dedicated to delivering the best way to interact with 3D digital media. We have always believed that in order to deliver a truly immersive experience, the user interface must be able to recognize your every move. We’re now able to create the platform that makes this possible.
Sixense is a team of developers, engineers, and enthusiasts who share this passion. Our founder, Amir Rubin, brings over 20 years of experience as an inventor and entrepreneur in developing consumer and professional motion tracking devices and simulators with companies like Sega, Callaway Golf, Louisville Slugger and Roland. We are all dedicated users of the technology and products that we create, so we have a lot of fun.
Backers at $25 or above receive a choice of one of the t-shirts below.
Our add-ons allow you to customize your pledge level for the STEM System project. Just increase the amount of your pledge to cover the total additional charges for the add-ons you want. We'll send you a survey after the project closes so you can tell us what you've chosen. Add-ons are available to any backer of any pledge that includes a STEM System, in any configuration ($149 and above). Please note that additional shipping and handling charges apply for international orders (outside the U.S.).
T-shirts: $25 each. You can choose from the three styles. Remember that each backer level of $149 or higher already comes with one t-shirt. This allows you to get the other styles if you want.
STEM: $39 each. Up to five STEMs are supported by a single Base. Each STEM can be used with STEM Controllers or controllers/peripherals of your own design, or with STEM Packs.
STEM Pack: $49 each. Each STEM Pack includes a built-in rechargeable battery and communications, a strap, and a clip. STEM is not included. Perfect if you want to use the STEMs that come with the Controllers.
STEM Controller: $59 each. Each Controller includes a built-in rechargeable battery & communications. STEM is not included. Perfect if you want to use the STEMs that come with the STEM Packs to play a game with a friend (like the Portal 2 MotionPack Co-op campaign).
STEM Base: $99 each. Add an additional Base.To extend the play zone range you can add up to two more Bases. STEMs, STEM Controllers or STEM Packs are not included.
(more to come)
Stretch Goal #1 - $550,000 - Wireless STEM Base
We’ll add wireless communications between the STEM Base and the host computer. The wireless Base will be powered by a rechargeable battery with approximately 8 hours of play time (or A/C power of course). This means that you’ll be free to place the STEM Base away from the host computer, which can be very helpful if you are not playing at a desktop. Note that when the STEM Base is running on battery power, it will not charge Controllers or STEM Packs that are docked.
Stretch Goal #2 - $700,000 - Android and iOS support
We will implement direct support for the STEM System on Android and iOS. An updated Sixense software development kit (SDK) will support Android 3.2 or higher and iOS 6 and higher, allowing STEM System developers to bring Sixense motion tracking to a huge installed base of mobile devices.
Our video above shows a virtual camera application for which we’ve heard a lot of requests. The STEM System running on Android and iOS will enable applications like the virtual camera, or even the ability to turn a mobile device into a VR head-mounted display.
The Sixense SDK will provide both 32-bit and 64-bit builds to support iOS. For Android developers, the SDK will support both native code and Java. The SDK can receive data from the STEM System via wireless or wired connection.
Risks and challenges
High-tech hardware design projects are complicated. Fortunately we have a team that has many years of experience in motion tracking, simulation, games and other software and consumer products. We’re doing everything we can to minimize risks to ensure that we can deliver the STEM System on time.
The technology is proven and we have working prototypes and existing relationships with manufacturers in the United States, China and Hong Kong. We are sourcing key components through close relationships with partners like Analog Devices and Nordic Semiconductor, who have supported us through the process of developing the technology. So while there is certainly risk at every step of the way in this complicated project we are confident that we have the right team to make it all happen.
We’re looking forward to your support and feedback as the last step to make the STEM System the best it can be.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
To all of our international backers (outside the United States):
Due to the cost and complexity of shipping to locations outside the U.S., we will need to bill separately for shipping at a date closer to the actual shipping date. This will make sure that we are able to charge the lowest possible amount based once we have determined the volumes and worked out the optimal shipping logistics. Please remember that backers will be responsible to verify and add import duties and VAT or other applicable taxes.
Because our Kickstarter project offers rewards with different sizes and weights, shipping will vary based on the specific reward and add-ons selected. Below are estimates for various countries based on the estimated shipping weight of the STEM System. All prices do not include import duties and VAT. If your country is not listed, please contact us and we will do our best to work with you to find a solution.
We hope to be able to do much better than the amounts below. All shipping rates are subject to change.
• Canada $30-40
• Mexico $40-50
• Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia $40-$50
• England, Scotland $50-$60
• Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland $40-50
• Spain, Portugal, Greece $40-$50
• Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark $40-50
• Czech Republic $55-$65
• Poland $50-$60
• Slovakia $40-$50
• Slovenia $40-$50
• Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia $55-$65
• Bosnia, Croatia
• China $50-$60
• Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand $45-$55
• Australia, New Zealand $55-$70
South Africa $50-$60
• Abu Dhabi $45-$55
• Egypt $45-$55
• Israel $45-$55
• Lebanon $45-$55
No. While we may make industrial design changes, the functionality and features of the consumer version of the STEM System will be identical to what we deliver to Kickstarter backers. This ensures that developers can develop and test to the exact target hardware that consumers will purchase.
Yes. We have made significant improvements in the performance of the Sixense motion tracking technology. We have a new architecture, which replaces the previous non-concentric 3-coil design in the Razer Hydra handsets with a concentric coil design with a ferrite core. This allows for the manufacturing process to go from hand-placement of coils to a fully automatic pick-and-place process known as Surface Mount Technology. This is a more reliable and repeatable process that improves both the accuracy of the system and the consistency between each STEM.
Yes! You can use up to three STEM Bases connected to one host computer to extend the playing range over a wider area.
Yes, multiple STEM Bases can be used in the same room right next to each other.
We will include basic haptics in both the STEM Controller and STEM Pack. We are still making decisions (such as one vs. two motors) that will be determined based on power optimization and other considerations.
Tactical Haptics is a close partner. They are developing a controller with advanced haptics and they are planning to allow a STEM to be embedded in their product.
We will continue to work closely with Oculus to make sure that the STEM System SDK and the Oculus Rift SDK are compatible. The Sixense Tuscany Demo is a good example of our collaboration (as you can see above).
We will continue to work closely Virtuix to make sure that the STEM System SDK and the Omni SDK are compatible.
We are experimenting with different prototypes and layouts to find the perfect solution. We value your input and are listening to all feedback from Kickstarter backers in the development cycle.
We will have an online pre-order system after the Kickstarter project closes. Keep in mind that in terms of shipping date, the Kickstarter orders will be first. If you already know that you need additional STEMs, you can pledge for the Add-Ons described above.
We are targeting 8 hours of continuous play for both the STEM Pack and STEM Controller. Both the Controller and Pack batteries are rechargeable by docking them on the Base when the Base is plugged into an AC outlet.
MakeVR is still a high priority for Sixense and work is progressing. As many of you have noted, it’s a great fit with the STEM System and it's fully supported. We will make an announcement about the timeline soon.
The STEM System supports all games and applications developed for the Razer Hydra including games like Portal 2 (with the custom motion DLC, the Portal 2 MotionPack), Team Fortress 2, Dota 2 and more. We are working with Valve to add support for Half-Life 2 and Left 4 Dead 2. We also have support for many Oculus Rift games like The Gallery: Six Elements and Crash Landing.
We are currently working with many game developers on providing integrated STEM System support in their games and hope to announce those soon. This includes titles being developed for the Oculus Rift, Razer Hydra and Virtuix Omni. We are really excited about all of the work that's being done already!
And of course our Sixense MotionCreator is fully supported by the STEM System. Sixense MotionCreator is a powerful software application that delivers motion gameplay to virtually any published PC game. It allows you to play using the natural, intuitive motion control provided by the STEM System. The game itself is never “aware” that any new device is being used to play the game since Sixense MotionCreator emulates the inputs for which the game was designed.
Hundreds of games are already supported by Sixense MotionCreator (http://sixense.com/products/motioncreator), so a huge catalog of titles for the STEM System will be available when it ships. Users can create profiles that convert the STEM System’s motion tracking, button, analog sticks, and analog triggers to mouse and keyboard commands. And anyone can use and customize Sixense MotionCreator, even those without game or software development skills. Sixense MotionCreator is available free to users of the STEM System.
How can I play Left 4 Dead 2 like I see you playing in the the Kickstarter video? I've used my Hydra with L4D2 plenty of times and never could wield my weapons like that.
The version Left 4 Dead 2 shown in the video is a proof of concept that we created to demonstrate full integration of our platform into a FPS game. We designed features like 1-to-1 control of the katana for melee combat, free throwing of objects and special aim modes especially to take advantage of Sixense tracking technology. We are hoping to release this support and we will keep everyone updated as to any news. It is not yet publicly available.
The STEM System contains a DSP (digital signal processor) that handles the processing of motion tracking position and orientation for each STEM. By the time the host computer receives the position and orientation data for each STEM, processing power required is approximately the same as for three mice.
We are integrating the STEM System with Unity, Unreal and Source and we do plan on supporting CryEngine 3.
No. It is impossible for a STEM System to interfere with hard drives, credit cards, televisions, speakers, pacemakers etc.
The STEM System uses A/C electromagnetic motion tracking technology, one of the advantages of which is that it can operate at very low field levels. So low, in fact, that the peak field strength from the Sixense system is 40 times less than that of the Earth’s magnetic field. Therefore, any system or material which is not affected by the Earth’s magnetic field will not be affected by the field used with a STEM System.
Additional reason the STEM System cannot magnetize materials is that because the field alternates between positive and negative polarity with time, the average field strength is zero. The magnetic source used in the STEM System operates at or above ~8,000 Hz, so the field polarity changes faster than every ~125 microseconds. Any material will see a zero average magnetic field and no magnetization will take place.
Research data shows that the magnetic field generated by the STEM System is lower than the most stringent government exposure standard. Magnetic sources used in the STEM System are wound coils designed to emit only magnetic field energy. The STEM System generates pulsed AC signals at frequencies of 30 kHz or lower and the electric field power is more than 60 dB below any exposure limit.
Content for the Hydra will be supported by the STEM System. You will also be able to use a Hydra and a STEM System simultaneously on the same host PC. This means that Hydra users can add head or body tracking for VR.
Our updated Sixense SDK will support the simultaneous use of the Hydra and STEM System. The Hydra + STEM System configuration will require both a Hydra (with its base) and a STEM Base (i.e., you cannot use STEMs with only a Hydra base).
You will be able to use three STEM Systems on one host computer, whether it’s a Steam Machine running SteamOS with Big Picture, or a Windows-, Linux- or Mac OS X-based PC. Multiple STEM Systems on a single host creates an incredibly flexible living room experience for PC gaming and VR. This enables many new configurations including two users with seven trackers each (swordfighting), four players with three trackers each (multiplayer FPS in VR), and many more.
This feature is not finalized yet. Currently, we use a switch in the STEM Base to set the frequency.
Are you planning to provide a wired structure with the ability to connect to a single high-capacity battery?
No, we believe that the STEM Packs need to be wireless. However the STEM Packs and Controllers can be operated while plugged in and charging with a standard USB cable. Users will be able to use any power source that can output to USB so custom implementation of high capacity batteries is a possibility.
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