Track dancing people

Hey there,

I am searching for a solution to track the movements of dancing people e.g. in a club assuming quickly changing lighting situations (strobe etc).

The solution should provide the possibility to find out about the movement of different dancers. A must-have would be information on their (changing) location in the room. Nice-to-have would be information on the movement of their arms.

It would be nice to give the dancers something “interface-ish” to reduce abstraction of later interactions. I recently thought about neon lightsticks, but tracking tests were rather disappointing.

Is anyone experienced with tracking or has a good idea on how to realize this one?


Sounds like a “eierlegende Wollmilchsau” in english its like “all-in-one device suitable for every purpose”.
Extremly changing lighting situations, crowd of people, fast movements, track arms aka recognize people as people. May be US-military has got a solution for this.
But despite my jokes (sorry I get up too early), what do you think about a ultrasound device for this. Once in my university a guy build up a setting with two emitters and one reciever, transferred and plugged to a stereo. Walking and moving in space was hearable, you could move your arms and it was like in a Chackie Chang movie. A little like moving in a bassin of water, where you hear the water somehow. Dont know if and how it works with a crowd.

Hi Frank,

sorry for the late response, I forgot to monitor this topic, so I didn’t get the E-mail notification…

Yeah, it sort of is the quest for the “Eierlegende Wollmilchsau”.
Unfortunately, the US military did not response to my mails and I’m not that kind of guy that is going to hack the Pentagon servers ;-)

I was thinking about any kind of device that can be given to the dancers. Maybe visual tracking is the wrong attempt? I’m not too much into other possibilities of tracking, so I was hoping to find some new ideas here.
During my research I found several interesting projects, e.g. a pressure-sensitive mat or tracking by cell phone. But none of the projects I found sounds suitable for my purposes.

Maybe anyone knows a solution using infrared lighting?

The ultrasound project sounds quite interesting to me! Do you know if the installation could handle multiple users?

Hi Dani,
I will look for ultrasonic stuff, but not sure if it can handle crowd of people. Keep on.
Whats about a LED-Stick with one or more LED-points instead of neon-stick? Every stick would have a specific blink pattern, so you are able to have specific IDs for people. Doing blink frequency very fast makes it invisible for people (the pattern, just light on). Doing blink frequency slow would make a nice effect for people to play with. But still strobe will be a task to filter out. Ahh, colored LEDs - could work even in strobe light. And if strobe is too bright for camera (colour will dissolve) a second camera with low aperture could jump in then.

Infrared will cause heat problems. And usually disco beams useing common bulbs or halogen, which emits a lot of Infrared. So, you will have troubles with an unexpected lighting situation as well, like shadows and spots.

Getting just changing location of people could be done by RFID. And a clever posture of some readers/antennas. But metal in surroundings will cause trouble for radiation. But this is cheap though.

Hi Dani,

dont know if you still interested in it, but here is some ultrasonic stuff. Actually, its not possible to get overlapping people. Its like a wall for sensors, no way to go through. But some sensors in every corner could solve that.
Here are some links for a range finder set - working at 40khz.
Product and infos. And an approach for getting shapes using ultrasonic.

Hi Frank,

yeah I’m still interested in ultrasonic solutions. As my current project should be done quiet soon, I decided to use lightsticks as a “quick and dirty” trackable interface.
But nevertheless I’m very interested in the ultrasonic solution! When I’ve finished my actual project, I’ll take a deeper look into the ultrasonic tracking possibilites. Until then, I’ll be glad to hear about everything you come across!
And thank you very much for your links :-)

Oh, you are welcome. How is it working with sticks? Whats about strobe? Give us some pics ;)
I couldnt find ultrasonic project from my former university as I mentioned above, sorry. Are you German? Here is uni-electro-wiki for some soldering, wires and bytes help.

Yeah, thanks for another fine link! So my bad English blabbed me again (I am German ;-)

I think this will help me finding a starting point for building some “home brewn” hardware solutions in the time after this project (it’s my final project for university btw).

I’ll post some pictures as soon as it’s worth posting!

Yeah, thanks for another fine link! So my bad English blabbed me again (I am German ;-)

No, I thought because of “der dani” :D