Components Needed to Use a Polhemus Tracking System

Posted: August 03, 2023

Components Needed to Use a Polhemus Tracking System image

Accurate and reliable motion tracking is essential for delivering immersive experiences and gathering precise data. Polhemus devices use propriety AC electromagnetic technology to capture and track the movement of objects or individuals in real-time. Polhemus technology offers exceptional accuracy, low latency, and reliability, making it suitable for a wide range of applications. Our technology is simple to set up and use – only three main components are needed to start tracking!

Main Components of a Polhemus Electromagnetic System: 

  • Source: The Source generates a magnetic field tuned to specific AC frequencies. This defines the tracking envelope where sensor position and orientation can accurately be obtained. Multiple Sources can be connected to increase overall tracking range or provide multiple points of origin.
  • Sensors: Sensors precisely measure position and orientation as they are moved throughout the defined tracking envelope. 
  • Systems Electronic Unit: The Systems Electronic Unit (SEU) contains the hardware and software necessary to power the Source and compute Sensor position and orientation. The SEU streams Sensor data continuously to your computer at 60-960hz (depending on user requirements). Depending on the specific Polhemus system, the SEU can interface with the host computer via RS-232, RS-422, or USB.

It is important to note that the SEU will not be able to track where the Sensors are in 3D space without a Source emitting an electromagnetic field. All three parts are necessary for tracking to be possible. 

All Polhemus products are comprised of these three core components, however, there are always exceptions. One such exception is our tetherless tracker, G4. While G4 does use a Source, Sensor, and SEU, it looks a bit different than our typical system. The SEU, referred to as a ‘Hub’, is compact, battery-powered, and can be worn on the body with up to 3 Sensors connected. The G4 Hub wirelessly transmits position and orientation data to the host computer via RF link. The G4 Source is also unique in that it is plugged into a standard outlet for power instead of the SEU.

Polhemus electromagnetic technology offers a powerful solution for achieving accurate motion tracking in a wide range of applications. By understanding the three main components necessary for tracking (Source, Sensor, and SEU), users can harness the full potential of Polhemus electromagnetic trackers.