Head Tracking in Games – Common Misconceptions

There are a number of  common misconception that I come across talking to EDTracker users and browsing forum posts. These apply to all forms of head tracking; webcam based (IR LED/image tracking) or IMU based.

First a recap on what head tracking does; Head tracking maps a users head movement into a game. With EDTracker if you rotate your head left the view rotates left. If you tilt your head up the view looks up. The cool bit is that the amount the in-game view moves can be scaled up to be more that your real head movement.  So looking left 10 degrees will look left in game by 90, or more. So you can sit in a Jet Fighter and look behind you or above you by just moving you head.

Now then, misconceptions;

1. I need a multi-monitor setup to use EDTracker

EDTracker gives perhaps the most benefit to users with single screens, regardless of screen size. Head Tracking works by scaling up your natural head motion so a small rotation gives a magnified ‘on-screen’ rotation. Unless you can surround yourself with monitors then EDTracker will always give you an advantage.

2. It takes time to learn how to ‘look around’ using head tracking

The brain is a wonderful thing. It has the ability to adapt and map what it sees through the eyes to physical head and eye movement. For the vast majority of users it takes a few seconds to adjust to head tracking. Your eye and head movement just ‘locks in’ to the visual feedback it gets from the game.

3.  Head Roll.

It makes sense to map head yaw (left/right) and pitch (up/down) and have these scales up to allow you look look around 360 degrees in game.  Mapping head roll isn’t needed for this.  If you roll your head over the world rolls in the opposite direction. If you top your head 90 degrees sideways the monitor and hence in-game view is already tipped 90. Mapping and scaling  pitch and yaw overcomes the limitation of having a small window (the monitor) on the game world. That window is constrained to showing a limited field of view but roll isn’t limited at all.

4.  You need to use other 3rd party software to get EDTracker to work

EDTracker will work with many games directly. If a game allows ‘head look’ to be controlled by a joystick then you can just plug EDTracker in, configure it using the EDTracker GUI, and then bind the controls in-game as you would for any other joystick.  Some games do not support this and for those a utility like Opentrack can be used to map the EDTracker outputs into something the game understands.  Opentrack also allows you to do cool things like map some lateral movement to the in-game view when you turn your head beyond a certain point. This reflects how your  head moves when you try to look behind you in real life e.g. “checking your six” .