Markers

Active markers are infrared light emitting elements, mostly LEDs.

All active markers provided by ART are just emitting radiation when the tracking cameras are sensitive, thus have to be synchronised with the cameras. Synchronisation can be done by a wired connection between the tracking system and the electronics controlling the active markers, but can also be done in a wireless way: For wireless synchronisation a coded IR flash is sent out by a tracking camera. The active markers’ electronics recognise the coded flash and activate the LEDs.

Passive markers are retroreflective, i.e. they reflect the incoming IR radiation into the direction of the incoming light.

Both active and passive markers will give the 3DOF (3 degrees of freedom), and can be either spherical or flat.


Active Markers

In ART tracking systems four types of LED-based active markers are used, depending on the application.
All active markers provided by ART are controlled by special electronics and need power supply.

Single LEDs

  • Simple and robust markers providing visibility up to long distances within a ca. +/- 60° angular range of visibility
  • Can be covered with acrylic protection sheets
  • The dimension for the single LED is 3.4 mm x 2.8 mm

Single LEDs with diffuser sphere

  • For optimum angular range of visibility at limited distances

Big active spherical markers

  • Several single LEDs per marker, covered with light scattering spheres
  • Provide visibility from all sides and up to very long distances
  • Diameter 50 mm, weight 50 g

Big active flat markers

  • Several single LEDs per marker, covered with light scattering surface
  • Provide tracking up to very great distances, within an angular range of visibility less than 180°
  • Suitable for outdoor tracking
  • Special features: magnetic base for easy positioning on metal surfaces
  • Diameter 30 mm

Active target sets

AMEK (Active Marker Evaluation Kit)
for active flat marker

The active target set for active flat markers consists of the active marker station (AMS1), the external IR receiver and the single active flat markers. The active marker station is powered by rechargeable batteries which can be recharged with the supplied battery charger.

AMC (Active Marker Controller)
for active spherical markers

The active target set for active spherical markers consists of the active marker controller (AMC) and the single active spherical markers. The markers can be synchronised optically or via cable. Up to 6 active spherical markers can be connected to the AMC.

 

Passive Markers

The passive markers most commonly used in tracking systems, including ART’s, are retroreflectors (see picture above). These markers reflect incoming IR radiation back in the direction of the incoming light.

More precisely the IR radiation is back-reflected into a narrow range of angles around the source of the incoming light. These markers are mostly spheres covered with retroreflecting foils, but can also be stickers made from retroreflecting material.

Retroreflecting sheets or foils available on the market can be based on two different optical principles:

  • Three mirrors, arranged in 90° angles to each other, reflect light in the described way. Mostly foils with arrangements of lots of very small mirrors in a plane are used.
  • Glass balls (with appropriate refraction index) focus incoming light onto the opposite surface of the ball. A layer of microscopic glass balls, carried by a reflecting material, acts as a retro reflector. These foils can be fabricated on a flexible carrier material, thus they are widely used for equipping spherical markers with retroreflecting surfaces.

Spherical Markers

Spherical markers are plastic spheres with a precisely centric M3 threaded insert, which are hand-coated with a highly retro-reflective film, for the most accurate optical tracking possible (see picture above).

They are also available as a coated version with a robust surface. We provide these coated markers in the following sizes: 14 mm, 16 mm, 20 mm.

Available sizes: 

Size [mm] Size [1/64 in]
12 30.2
14 35.3
16 40.3
20 50.4
30 75.6

Flat Markers

Flat markers are pre-cut circular pieces of self-adhesive retro-reflective film.

Available sizes:

Size [mm] Size [1/64 in]
10 25.2
12.5 31.5
15 37.8
20 50.4

Ring Markers

Ring markers can be fitted on almost any cylindrical object such as torque wrenches or screw drivers.

Sometimes tracking of tools with flexible parts is required, in order to find the exact position of the tool tip. With special calibration and tracking algorithms it is possible to account for the motion of the extension and track the tool tip with a precision of less than 5 mm.

 

Our markers in comparison

Active markers
Marker type Visibility IR Range Description
Active
- single LED
limited +/- 60° up to 10 m

- electronics and power supply necessary
- can be covered with acrylic protection film

Active
- single LED
- with diffusor sphere
optimum angular range of visibility up to 4.5 m

- electronics and power supply necessary

Big active
- spherical
from all sides up to 20 m

- electronics and power supply necessary
- suitable for outdoor tracking

Big active
- flat
angular range of visibility
limited +/- 90°
up to 20 m

- electronics and power supply necessary 
- suitable for outdoor tracking 
- magnetic base for easy positioning on metal surfaces

Passive markers
Marker type Visibility IR Range Description

Passive
- spherical

from all sides

4 – 10 m *

- sensitive surface

Passive
- spherical
- coated

from all sides 3 – 7 m *

- robust surface

Passive
- flat

limited +/- 45° 4 – 10 m *

- cheap
- more robust surface possible

* depending on tracking camera type and marker size