Being a child of the 1980s, action figures were a part of growing up. Posing them was intuitive and second nature. Kids today still play with action figures, but with increasingly better video games, action figures today are also digital.
Game studios and animators create 3D models that they manipulate and bring to life via computer software. Japan venture outfit SoftEther Corporation thinks it's figured out a better way, and it involves one of the coolest action figures you'll ever see.
Traditionally, 3D CG was created by inputting through a keyboard and with a mouse. According to SoftEther, this 3D CG software isn't accessible to the lay user. To bring 3D CG to a wider audience and perhaps create a more intuitive process, SoftEther developed a system it's codenamed "Quma". It seems to be aimed at hobby game and anime creators, who have the imagination to dream up characters and stories, but maybe not the software skills.
Here's how Quma works: The figure is connected to a computer via USB. There are sensors on the figure's joints. Manipulating the figure causes the onscreen model to move. In that way, he works somewhat like an action figure version of Microsoft's Kinect. It's also intuitive like Kinect.
"This product will enable everyone to manipulate human-like characters in the computer without necessity of any expert training for 3D-CG software operation."
According to SoftEther, the tech powering the system is called "Quma technology". "Kuma" (熊) is "bear" in Japanese, and the first alpha version of Quma, developed back in 2009, was a brown teddy bear with a red ribbon. The beta version is pictured in the above image and video. The tech uses several connected circuit boards and firmware like the previously mentioned joint-angle sensors.
Quma doesn't yet have a retail date, but the first product will be human shaped like the above figure. Other shapes are expected to follow. It will be Windows and possibly Mac compatible.
"This product will enable everyone to manipulate human-like characters in the computer without necessity of any expert training for 3D-CG software operation," the company wrote on its official site. "It is the best solution for not only composing 3D illustrates and animations but also controlling a character in 3D-game software."
To learn more about Quma, visit SoftEther's website.
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(Top photo: SoftEther)