Freetrack

Over the course of a long period of time Freetrack was, and perhaps still is, the most popular free solution in the cruel world of head tracking. It is the work of French programmers, coded in Delhpi programming language which, with some effort invested by the user, provides head tracking on personal computers which can be used in flight simulators or computer games, as a mouse emulator, or to emulate keyboard or joystick. Keyboard or mouse emulation, apart from obvious advantages head tracking offers to regular users, facilitates computer usage to physically impaired persons.

Freetrack- figure 1

Freetrack- figure 2

This software's latest version, Freetrack 2.2, offers several new options Freetrack 2.1 doesn't have, such as the possibility to set the minimal and maximal tracking point size on the picture viewed by the web cam or the dynamic neutral position, but on the other hand, with some webcams the need arises to load the settings for the web cam every time Freetrack is ran. Freetrack 2.2 provides support for several web cam types which are unsupported in Freetrack 2.1, which will be discussed in more depth later. Basic functionality of both versions is equally good, which leaves the user free to choose the version more convenient for one's particular setup. Freetrack communicates with most games and flight simulators through the TrackIR interface, which induced compatibility problems, since coordinate encryption was introduced with the TrackIR 5 head- tracking system. This problem was addressed by software producers by including Freetrack interface, quite existent, into their products. At any rate, head tracking with two degrees of freedom through mouse emulation will always be available. Low image refreshing frequency problem, up to 30 FPS in most cases, plaguing most commercially available web cams is solved by Freetrack's interpolation algorithms, which enable transferring head position coordinates to the client software a hundred times per second or more frequently, which yields good results coupled with the possibility of tweaking response curves, sensitivity and smoothing.
 
Apart from web cams that use I420 and RGB video compression supported by Freetrack 2.1, Freetrack 2.2 also supports Wiimote cam as well as cams that use UVC codec and don't require separate software drivers. Those still considering the purchase of a web cam for use with Freetrack would be well advised to visit the webpage containing user experiences related to different web cam models on the Freetrack website and, during their visit, they'll also be able to acquaint themselves with the intricacies of the exciting operation of removing the IR filter from different web cam models. Apart from a web cam, achieving good head tracking with Freetrack will also take some sort of a point model which the user will need to wear on one's head. Models with one, three or four emitting diodes, reflective points, or markers of a different nature as depicted on figure 3, can be used. Another imaginative solution produced by a user is displayed on figure 4. Those interested can see other models built by users in Freetrack website's model gallery. Those reluctant to get into the adventure of building one's own point model can take a look at point models offered on this website.

Freetrack- figure 3

Freetrack- figure 4

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