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HiBall-3100™ Wide-Area, High-Precision Tracker and 3D Digitizer


The HiBall-3100 Tracker is a new approach to wide-area tracking, delivering unparalleled accuracy with low latency, high update rate, and scalability to cover a very large region. Based on the Wide-Area Tracking research project of the Department of Computer Science of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — the HiBall-3100 is an optical tracker achieving new levels of performance for virtual and augmented reality, simulation and training, industrial tracking, film and video production, entertainment, and 3D digitization. The HiBall-3100 has a unique set of features. The HiBall-3100 tracker:

bulletScales to cover very large areas, almost without limit
bulletMaintains extraordinary precision throughout the tracking space
bulletDelivers precision unaffected by metal, magnetic fields, noise
bulletBuilt in redundancy overcomes most line-of-sight obstructions
bulletProvides very high update rate and low latency — solid tracking even at high-speed motion. 

The HiBall-3100’s optical tracker has been designed for the most demanding applications, achieving new levels of range, accuracy, and update rate.

 HiBall-3100  Sensor        

The HiBall-3100 tracker system is composed of two key integrated components; the HiBall Optical Sensor and the HiBall Ceiling Beacon Arrays. The HiBall Optical Sensor is composed of 6 lenses and photodiodes arranged so that each photodiode can ‘view’ infrared LEDs, in the Beacon Arrays mounted on the ceiling, through several of the 6 lenses. The assembly includes signal processing and analog-to-digital conversion circuitry. The total weight is about 6 ounces, making it light enough to comfortably mount on a head-mounted display or hand-held device. By locating the sensors on the person or object being tracked — inside-out tracking — sensitivity around the working area is increased and the tracker area scales almost without limit. An entire lab, movie set, or assembly area can be tracked.

The HiBall can also be mounted on the stylus supplied with system enabling extremely accurate measurements of individual objects within a large space. For example, this can be used for very rapid measurement of actual television or movie sets or other real-world objects to be combined with virtual scenes. No other device can provide comparable speed and accuracy over a wide area.

HiBall-3100 Beacon Array Modules

The infrared LEDs seen by the HiBall Sensor are embedded in a series of ceiling mounted strips forming a 2D Beacon Array - 8 LEDs per strip; 6 strips per Beacon Array Module (BAM). These strips are designed to slip easily into a typical ‘drop ceiling’ with no changes required in panels, lights, vents, etc. - the more Beacon Array Modules employed, the greater the range of the tracker. The arrays are highly modular — available in configurations covering as little as 144 square feet (12’ x 12’) or more than 1,600 square feet (40’ x 40’). 


And no special adjustments are required of the ceiling structure — the system’s precision is unaffected by typical variations in ceiling height or in strip placement. The strips are mounted in approximately the right location using a simple spacer tool.  The HiBall system's  autocalibration feature then rapidly and accurately determines the precise location of the individual ceiling strips creating a 'ceiling map' that can be saved and/or continuously updated while tracking.


The HiBall Sensor and the Beacon Arrays are synchronized by a Ceiling-HiBall Interface Board (CIB) which enables extremely high rates of LED ‘sightings’ — approximately 3,000 per second. This results in a tracker update rate of 2,000 Hz — several times faster than other commercially available wide-area trackers. Faster updates means lower latency and more accurate tracking - even with rapid movements. 

HiBall-3000/3100 Tracker Installations

bulletEmergency Communications Group, CRL
bulletHughes Research Laboratory
bulletJohns Hopkins University - Wilmer Eye Institute
bulletMitre Corporation
bulletNASA Langley Research Center
bulletNHK Science & Technical Research Laboratories
bulletOsaka University
bulletPurdue University
bulletSony Pictures Imageworks
bulletSUNY College of Optometry
bulletSwarthmore College
bulletUniversity of Arizona
bulletUniversity of Central Florida
bulletUniversity of Minnesota
bulletUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
bulletUniversity of North Carolina at Charlotte
bulletUniversity of Rochester
bulletUniversity of Southern California
bulletUSC - Institute for Creative Technologies
bulletUniversity of Texas at Austin - Texas Advanced Computing Center
bulletUniversity of Virginia



Very Wide Area – Scalable to over 1,600 square feet

bulletHigh Precision - location resolution of better than .2 mm, angular precision of better than .01 degrees
bulletLow-Latency, Hi-Update Rate (up to 2000Hz) – solid, high-speed tracking; no swimming
bulletSmall, lightweight (6 OZ) sensor – Head or stylus mountable
bulletEasy Installation - Installs in standard drop-ceilings; requires no room modifications. Autocalibration ensures accuracy.
bulletSupports multiple sensors – multiple participants or head and hand tracking
bulletNo metal or sound interference  – requires no modification of the setting
bulletAccurate everywhere - Consistent tracking near edges of the space

HiBall-3100 System

The HiBall-3100 is a modular system designed to meet the most demanding needs of virtual and augmented reality. Systems can range in coverage from as little as 144 sq. ft. to more than 1,600 sq. ft. Typical systems include:

bullet1 - 4 HiBall Optical Sensors - for mounting on Head-mounted displays or the optional pointer/stylus.
bullet18-200 or more HiBall Beacon Array Modules - Infrared LEDs embedded in ceiling strips.  A standard Beacon Array Module covers an 8 sq. ft. lateral area and can be increased in increments of 8 square feet - virtually without limit.
bullet1 or more Ceiling-HiBall Interface Controls (CIB) - The CIB synchronizes the HiBall Sensor with the LED displays in the ceiling.
bulletOptional stylus position tracker - The stylus, attached to a HiBall, can register locations and orientations of physical objects more quickly and accurately than previously possible. This is ideal for registering physical objects in movie and TV sets or implements in augmented reality scenes.

* Specifications subject to change without notice

Download HiBall-3100 Tracker data sheet in PDF format (335KB).