Distance Sensors

Levi Pearson levipearson at gmail.com
Thu Nov 19 00:27:05 MST 2009

Sasha Pachev <sasha at asksasha.com> writes:

> Questions:
>  - What is the technical term for something like this?

This is generally called a motion capture system.  It sounds like you
specifically want a magnetic motion capture system.  The base station
projects a magnetic field, and each sensor has 3 coils that measure the
magnetic flux at their position.  They transmit this data back to the
base station, which can then figure out the position and orientation of
each sensor.

>  - If something like this exists, can I get the precision of 0.1 cm
> and the ability to query 1000 distances per second  for a reasonable
> cost (let's say under $1000)?

I haven't seen anything that supports that high of a sample rate and
that fine of resolution, but I'm pretty sure you can get by with less.
I'm not really sure what they cost; it probably depends on what kind of
a deal you can work with the sales people.

>  - Assuming the answer to the previous questions is that it is
> technologically possible, but not for the given price. Suppose a
> demand arose for a system like this to where you had, let's say, a
> million potential customers. Would it be economically viable to
> manufacture a system like this for less than $1000 for a base + 16
> sensors?

A million total potential customers is not exactly a huge number these
days, but I don't really know what the motion capture market is like.
You could contact these guys and see what they'd sell this system for:

It doesn't look like it's cheap, though.

> If it is not obvious, and also to keep the discussion on topic, I do
> want to be able to use Linux to control the base and collect the data.

Since when do we have to be on topic here? ;)


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