Shotoku to release new VR/AR tracking system

Neal Romanek
March 23rd 2016 at 9:45AM : By Neal Romanek

The new Free-d2 system uses simple ceiling markers to determine position and orientation

Shotoku Broadcast Systems will release a new VR/AR tracking systems at next month's NAB Show in Las Vegas. The Free-d2 does not require physical encoder devices attached to the camera support¹s moving axes.

The Free-d2 system, which is aimed at VR/AR news, sports and current affairs live studio productions, uses advanced video processing algorithms and simple ceiling markers to determine the position and orientation of the studio camera, thus providing accurate and constantly referenced (absolute) position tracking. The systems doesn't use the concept of a home or reference point. 

The system's small Free-d2 camera is attached to the broadcast camera in such a way that it does not interfere with normal operations, and constantly views the lighting grid area where markers are positioned. Being attached directly to the camera means any type of camera support can be used, including Steadicam or handheld cameras.

Low-cost markers, made of simple reflective material, can be placed within the studio lighting grid or ceiling area. Once an initial studio map is created, the system shouldn't require calibration again. In use, the Free-d2 camera needs to register only a small number of markers to calculate the position of the camera, so obstructions such as lights or ceiling fittings don't hinder operation.

"Shotoku is extremely excited to introduce Free-d2, our newest VR/AR tracking system, to the U.S. broadcast market," said James Eddershaw, sales director, Shotoku. "For many years, Shotoku has been providing broadcasters from around the world with a range of solutions in VR tracking, from simple 2D P&T heads to full-sized 3D systems based on pedestals, cranes and jibs. These systems provide precise, reliable, and easy-to-use hardware-based VR tracking data. Now, the free Free-d2 which was originally developed by engineers at BBC Research and Development, is the latest addition to the range but differs in concept to encoder-based hardware tracking. This latest addition extends our range of VR solutions."

Shotoku will also be introducing a new product in its robotic camera systems, called SmartPed. SmartPed is a three-wheel, smooth-steer pedestal which features a new height column without need of pneumatic balancing and includes multi-zone collision avoidance and detection systems and an electro-mechanical steer/drive system.


Intended for use in high-profile live TV productions, the SmartPed's stable height column aims to provide enhanced performance during pedestal moves even at higher camera elevations. It also offers a VR tracking option under both local or remote control.