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"My father was a master mechanic; I grew up with a screwdriver in one hand and a pair of pliers in the other."
- Frank Herbert

Motion Capture Suit  
  A tight fitting garment that uses sensors at various positions to record movement in space; can be used as the basis for computer graphic creations.  

Yes, they have these in the real world, but what happens when they are cheap enough so anyone can play with them? Computers once cost millions of dollars each, but when they were cheap enough to put one on your desk at home, many other uses surfaced.

The sharehouse was full of USC media sciences students, and they got on her nerves. ..Everyone who lived here was constantly taping everyone else, except Iain, and Iain wore a motion capture suit, even slept in it, and was recording every move he ever made.
From All Tomorrow's Parties, by William Gibson.
Published by Putnam in 1999
Additional resources -

Most of us collect something about ourselves, whether it is pictures of our families, bronzed baby shoes, or other objects. But collecting data about how your body moves in space - that's different.

"Motion capture" is defined as the recording of body movement for later analysis. The information gathered can be as simple as a small set at points in space representing wrist, elbow, shoulder points, etc. Or, very complex structures like the changing expressions on a person's face, requiring hundreds of datapoints for a very small area, can be captured.

The earliest technology for this purpose, rotoscoping, was used to make Snow White, the Disney animated feature, more compelling. This technique utilized frame-by-frame film of live actors; animators then traced over the frames.

The first motion capture "suits" were electromechanical telefactoring devices; they lead to real-time control of puppets or allowed actors to script movements of computer graphics characters in the 1980's.

Optical tracking of the human body, using small markers at various points on the body, was also used at this time. The person was then filmed, and then the datapoints gathered from the film.

Take a look at a brief motion capture suit video to get a good look at how the motion of the suit translates into data usable in real time by a computer graphics program.

Don't miss this fascinating Flash application made from motion capture suit data. For more detailed information about the history of motion capture suits, be sure to see this very nice article A Brief History of Motion Capture for Computer Character Animation.

For a look at the first telefactoring device, see Waldo, from the Robert Heinlein story of the same name. Heinlein invented the term as well as the concept of telefactoring.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from All Tomorrow's Parties
  More Ideas and Technology by William Gibson
  Tech news articles related to All Tomorrow's Parties
  Tech news articles related to works by William Gibson

Motion Capture Suit-related news articles:
  - Motion Capture Your Life Anywhere, Anytime

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