Sony is introducing Mocopi, its wireless, phone-based motion capture system for controlling virtual avatars, to the US following the product’s Japanese debut earlier this year. Mocopi is available to preorder now for $449 exclusively via the Sony web store and is expected to ship to customers starting July 14th. Japan has long been a popular market for virtual streamers (also known as “Vtubers”), content creators who portray fictional, animated characters — usually through motion capture — so it made sense for the company to test the water there. Now Mocopi could provide an accessible way for more creators in the US to adopt the hobby, too.
The system is ultimately designed to record a user’s movements and then mirror them in digital environments — hence the mashup of “motion” and “copy.” There are plenty of different use cases for this kind of tech, from allowing animators to rig 3D characters with more realistic motions, to allowing Vtubers to replicate their movements in real time across streams and virtual reality platforms like VR Chat.
Mocopi relies on six tracking sensors roughly the size of an Apple Airtag to track the users’ movement, communicating the live data via Bluetooth to the system’s Android or iOS app. The sensors strap to your head, hip, both ankles, and both wrists to provide up to 10 hours of wireless, full-body tracking. The sensors are otherwise stored in a USB-C charging case and can be fully charged in around 90 minutes.
That $449 price tag might seem expensive if you’re not familiar with alternative motion capture offerings on the market, but that’s actually fairly reasonable considering its potential applications, even if it is pricier than we previously expected. Full motion capture suits and room sensors (like the kind you see used in TV, movie, and video game productions) can cost thousands of dollars — a heavy investment for small, indie studios. In an interview with The Verge, CodeMiko, one of the world’s most notable Vtubers, said she spent $12-$13K on the suit controlling her digital avatar.
And the system itself provides some major benefits for the niche communities that will be willing to cough up the cash to buy it. While there are some affordable VR headsets like the Meta Quest 2 that can be similarly utilized in VR applications, these won’t provide the finesse of a dedicated motion capture tool — especially when it comes to lower body tracking. Some software-based alternatives have also appeared in recent years that rely on the user’s webcam or recorded video footage, like Rokoko and Luppet. But these generally don’t provide full-body tracking, and those that do can be inconsistent and usually don’t hold a candle to hardware-based offerings. And as Mocopi relies on a Bluetooth connection with your phone, you can use it anywhere.
There are still a few things lacking with Mocopi: it can’t track your facial expressions or finger movements, for example, but it otherwise looks like a great alternative to setting up clunky base stations around your home.