Motor Control

Measuring movement in motor control research, and its related neuroscience disciplines of motor development and motor coordination, requires an exceptional degree of temporal accuracy and spatial resolution. It’s not enough to simply track motion. It’s only when every detail of a twitch, hesitation, adaptation or perturbation is captured that movement can be used as a window to the brain.


Claudia L. R. Gonzalez, Ph.D. | Canada Research Chair | Department of Kinesiology
Photo courtesy of the University of Lethbridge.

The Gold Standard for Measurement Accuracy

The Optotrak Certus 3D measurement system delivers unsurpassed accuracy and precision over a large, pre-calibrated tracking volume. Our high-speed optical tracker captures 3D or 6DOF data at superior latency rates for tight synchronization with third-party analog devices; for example, within a feedback loop. The most subtle of movements are captured with minimal lag, connecting movement to brain activity as it occurs. The key to reconstructing a continuous position trajectory from discrete measurements is accuracy.

Figure 1: Relationship between Accuracy and Sampling Rate

Figure 1: Relationship between Accuracy and Sampling Rate

As shown in Figure 1, less accurate motion capture systems must sample data at higher rates, and then average that data to increase the measurement accuracy. Instead, the Optotrak captures each data point with micron-level accuracy and precision, independent of sampling rate. Exceptionally accurate data minimizes RMS error when reconstructing the original signal even if it contains sudden position changes, or minute movements. It’s this level of accuracy that has made the Optotrak the gold standard in neuroscience research for over 30 years.

Full Access and Control over Data

Acceleration and Position Profiles

Figure 2: Acceleration and Position Profiles Top: Two different acceleration profiles (blue, green) Bottom: The two corresponding position profiles (blue green)

Traditional motion capture systems are designed for animation applications, recording only 2D images. Those images are then processed via black-box algorithms to calculate 3D positions. The Optotrak actively measures marker coordinates using advanced real-time optical technology. Position measurements are not determined by some unknown calculation. You have access to the raw data, and complete control over how that data is manipulated, analyzed, and presented.

Using position measurements you can then derive velocity and acceleration profiles. If the position data is measured inaccurately, or processed in any way, errors in the position signal will be magnified, and the derivatives could look very different than the true velocity or acceleration profile. This is illustrated in Figure 2, in which two very similar position trajectories are associated with two very different acceleration profiles. Don’t risk the reliability of your research. The Optotrak provides noiseless, high quality data that you can trust – every time.

Flexible Integration

The Optotrak system makes it easy for you to create customized software setups and your own experiment calculations. Recorded data is exported in ASCII or C3D format. Full integration with third-party software packages (e.g. MATLAB, LabVIEW) or custom code is achieved via TCP/IP streaming. You can also ‘talk’ directly to the system using the Optotrak API. The Optotrak accepts and emits a trigger and clock signal to control events, and integrates seamlessly with tools that can provide live feedback to the subject during experiments.

System Configurations

Optotrak Neuro

The original Optotrak Certus system. Optotrak Neuro includes small markers that are easy to place on the subject’s fingers and face.
4col_certus_stand Includes:

  • Optotrak Certus Position Sensor
  • System Control Unit
  • First Principles
  • 6D Architect Software
  • USB Interface Kit


  • Digitizing Kit
  • 30 Standard Markers
  • 2 Marker Strober Kits
  • Wire Crimping Kit
  • Base Stand

Optotrak Flex

The most flexible Optotrak Certus system. Optotrak Flex gives researchers the flexibility to use small markers for face and fingers or Smart markers to save time and minimize wire management. The mixed marker system comes with an assortment of Smart clusters and Smart markers for ultimate flexibility.
4col_certus_stand Includes:

  • Optotrak Certus Position Sensor
  • System Control Unit
  • First Principles Software
  • 6D Architect Software
  • USB Interface Kit


  • Digitizing Kit
  • 10 Standard Markers
  • 1 Marker Strober Kit
  • 1 Smart Marker Strober & Wireless Transmitter
  • 6 Smart Clusters
  • 5 Smart Markers

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