It's been more than 20 years since Jordan Mechner used videos of his brother running and jumping as a reference to design in-game movements for the Prince of Persia video game. Things have come a long way since 1989, with sophisticated motion-capture technologies being developed. One of the latest innovations in digital modeling technology is a miniature 3D motion-capture figure dubbed QUMA, which is connectible to a PC via a simple USB plug.
Developed by Japanese Tsukuba-based company SoftEther, QUMA is a humanoid doll equipped with freely movable limbs and a number of movement-tracking sensors. The physical movements of the doll's arms, legs, and other appendages are precisely reproduced by the on-screen digital figure in real-time. Using QUMA is reportedly very simple, as it just needs to be plugged into a USB port, with no drivers or external power required.
SoftEther says that the technology behind the device makes it possible to create the doll in any given shape, such as that of an animal.
It looks like QUMA could make the jobs of 3D CG engineers and designers quicker and easier, anywhere a realistic character needs to be reproduced digitally. QUMA could also make for a useful tool for 3D design amateurs, provided the price is reasonable. The doll has been in development phase since 2009 and it's not finished yet, so there's no word on pricing and availability as for now.
The following video gives a glimpse into the way QUMA works: