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Polhemus Provides Motion Tracking Systems to Carnegie Mellon

Polhemus, the industry leader of 6 Degree-of-Freedom (6DOF) motion tracking, digitizing, eye-tracking and handheld 3D scanners, has provided its most recent release in tracking technology to Carnegie Mellon Universitys Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) for use in its Building Virtual Worlds (BVW) class this semester at the Pittsburgh campus.

Using the latest electro-magnetic technology, Polhemus has made another breakthrough in tracking technology with its LIBERTY system, which inserts virtual 3D objects into live video images creating a non-invasive, interactive environment that immerses the user in augmented reality.

ETC-Pittsburgh is using two LIBERTY tracking systems to enrich the learning and playing experience for its first-year masters students taking the BVW course a foundational element of the ETCs curriculum, which awards graduates with the worlds only masters of entertainment technology degree.

Throughout the 15-week course, four-person student teams have about two weeks to create a virtual world or experience from inception and design through scripting, graphics, rendering, programming, user testing and production to working prototype. Students are then assigned to new teams, given a different technology platform to use, and asked to tackle a different interactivity goal or feature as they create their next virtual experience in another two weeks.

Worlds generated by ETC students this semester with the Polhemus LIBERTY systems include an airy world where you take wing as an elegant white bird, soaring above a tranquil mountain landscape; and another world where you take the shape of a little green dragon skiing down a mountain pass, trying to elude snow bunnies on your left, big dragons crossing the path in front of you and snowmen hurling snowballs at you on the right.

Created by computer science professor and ETC co-founder, Randy Pausch, the BVW course was inspired by the rapid prototyping methods used by Walt Disney Imagineering. The goal of the course is to take students with varying talents, backgrounds and perspectives, and put them together to do more than they could do alone, better than they could do it aloneto prototype worlds and experiences that engage users in bold, new ways.

We don't try to teach artists to program, or engineers to paint, Pausch said. We form teams where everyone does what they're already skilled at doing, but they unite to attack a joint project.

This year, the course is taught by former Disney game developer Jesse Schell, assistant professor of entertainment technology at the ETC and ceo of Schell Games. Polhemus has been a dream to work with, said Schell. The two systems showed up quickly, were easy to set up, and have made a huge difference in the quality of student work. Now the students can focus on the quality of the world itself instead of worrying about the reliability of the tracking system.

The Pittsburgh-based BVW course culminates in a raucous stage show this Dec. 6, 2006, where a juried selection of the best student work will be shared in front of a live, 500-person audience at Carnegie Mellon Universitys McConomy Auditorium. In addition to standing-room only crowds of students, faculty and alumni, past shows have attracted industry execs from companies such as DreamWorks, Electronic Arts and Pixar.

Vermont-based Polhemus ( is a global leader in providing 3D position/orientation tracking systems, digitizing technology solutions, eye-tracking systems and handheld three-dimensional scanners. These products are used for the medical industry, university research, military training, simulation, computer-aided design and entertainment.