Polhemus

Polhemus is a 3D motion tracking technology company that delivers six degrees of freedom motion measurement systems, digitizing products, eye-tracking systems and handheld 3D laser scanners which are all commonly used in medical simulation systems. Headquartered in Colchester, Vermont, the company has been working to produce and distribute cutting-edge applications across the world for over 40 years, establishing patient safety through medical simulator solutions.

The Polhemus brand delivers high performance and cost-effective solutions with sensors that are low latency and completely embeddable. Polhemus products can be found throughout an array of applications, including biomechanics, virtual reality, training simulators, image guided surgery, orthotics and prosthetics, military guidance systems and others.

According to Polhemus, the company’s technology uniquely measures both position and orientation natively, providing users with full 6DOF motion tracking methodologies without the post-processing of data to derive missing measurements. With these measures in place, data never gets “lost” because a line-of-sight was obstructed. There are also no cameras involved, and no drift, as with inertial technology.


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A Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) contract manufacturer under U.S. FDA Regulations, Polhemus’ trackers have “tracking hemispheres” capability that allows for the totally spherical coverage around a source. This gives customers tremendous set-up flexibility. Further, this allows the tracking products to be used for measuring small, precision movements, and large area tracking.

Polhemus solutions are created to serve the healthcare, military, and research and technology markets, and the products are widely used in training and simulation, university research, biomechanics, sports motion analysis, on live military aircraft and in other fields as well. The company’s solutions are suited for a wide range of applications, and the company continues to deliver the technology around the world, produce some of the latest high-tech applications.

Polhemus Company History

The Polhemus brand first introduced the company’s proprietary electromagnetic technology in 1969. Since the company’s foundation, Polhemus’ mission has been to give customers the power to break new ground through innovative, cost-effective enabling technologies designed for the real and virtual world.


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While Polhemus motion tracking products are currently used in a broad range of applications, the initial product was developed specifically or pilots. At the time, the company introduced head tracking for the military–which Polhemus still develops today.

In the 1990’s, Polhemus built upon the company’s already reputable legacy of motion tracking by expanding the product line to add eye tracking and 3D laser scanning simulation solutions. These additions paved the way for entering new markets, and Polhemus became known more broadly as a reliable source for motion measurement tracking technology.

Through this expansion, Polhemus evolved and refocused company efforts with the research and technology, healthcare simulation and military markets in mind. Over the years, one thing has remained the same—an ability for the company to innovate and produce new solutions in high-fidelity simulation motion measurement tracking. Today, Polhemus has a strong, established international distributor network and OEM/VAR partners around the world. To maintain brand awareness, Polhemus representatives attend a number of simulation conferences each year, such as IMSH from SSH, or SimGHOSTS.

Polhemus Simulation Products and Solutions

Polhemus develops products and solutions in three categories: motion tracking, scanning and digitizing and eye tracking. Products in each of these categories are designed to assist either the research and technology, military or healthcare simulator markets.

The company offers a variety of motion tracking systems, and continues to introduce new products, based on market demand. Whether customers need to track a person, an object or several people or objects, these tools can assist them. The latest and most powerful product is the VIPER, a motion tracker with high-speed update rates, yet virtually no lag time, with small, scalable and customizable hardware. VIPER is the latest iteration of electromagnetic motion trackers by Polhemus. With speeds up to 960Hz, latency as low as 1ms & smart sensing technology, VUPER offers scaled-up capability in a scaled-down package.

For example, the G4 Wireless Motion Tracker and Digitizing Stylus delivers full 6DOF tracking, providing both position and orientation, without hybrid technologies. As with all Polhemus tracking systems, G4 utilizes Polhemus’ proprietary AC electromagnetic technology. This means G4 tracks through most walls, as no line-of-sight is required for continuous tracking, and is fully compatible with micro-sensors.

Additionally, The 8-inch stylus is perfect for digitizing large areas, including outside environments, without the need for any special lighting conditions. With a few simple clicks, users can measure coordinates with the stylus tip, as well as orientation. Other wireless Polhemus trackers include the Liberty Latus and PATRIOT Wireless. Head trackers include the G4, VIPER and SCOUT.

As for scanning and digitizing, Polhemus is able to serve a wide variety of applications. The proprietary 6DOF electromagnetic technology is embedded in the scanning products, allowing users to instantly digitize 3D shapes with a few sweeps of a hand-held wand. According to Polhemus, these scanning products excel in 3D archiving and can be especially useful in the animation industry.

An example of a Polhemus scanning and digitizing product is the FastSCAN II. This is a handheld, lightweight, laser scanner that produces scans instantly—with an ultra-portable system bundled in a compact case. With a simple sweep of a wand, FastSCAN II lets users create instant real-time 3D images from anywhere and at any time. The FastSCAN is designed to save users time, delivering automatic overlap removal of the scans as the product seamlessly stitches data points together. Polhemus also offers scanning applications, case studies, research studies and product videos.

The last category of Polhemus products, eye tracking solutions deliver a level of accuracy, giving users the ability to track precisely what they are looking for. For example, the advanced eye-tracking system, VisionTrak uses Polhemus’ proprietary AC electromagnetic tracking technology, making the product highly customizable and used in diverse applications by top universities, cutting-edge research laboratories and corporations worldwide. Available in head-mounted and desktop versions, VisionTrak collects pupil size, eye movement and eye point-of-regard data, recording in real-time and using virtual anatomy, without restricting head movement. This enables users to maximize their vision tracking and analysis capabilities.

An add-on for the Standard Head Mounted Eye Tracking System, Polhemus developed a Remote Digital Recording System that can be worn by the subject to facilitate untethered movement during tracking. All data captured by the simulation recording system is moved to Hi-8 media and can later be uploaded to the operator’s PC. The Remote Digital Recording System includes a Hi-8 camcorder, two channel MUX and DEMUX, power vest, spare battery and charger. Polhemus further offers eye tracking applications, research studies and product videos.

Note: Polhemus systems are not certified for medical or biomedical use, and any company references to medical or biomedical use are examples of what medical companies have done with products after they have obtained all necessary or appropriate medical certifications. The end user/OEM/VAR must comply with all pertinent FDA/CE regulations pertaining to the development and sale of medical devices and all other regulatory requirements.

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