Track3D: a new solution for tracking, visualization, and analysis of animal movement in 3D

18 March 2008

Wageningen - Noldus Information Technology announces the release of Track3D, a video-based solution for automated tracking of animals in a 3D space. Track3D allows researchers to record the movement of an animal in a test chamber, visualize the resulting trajectory in a three-dimensional image and calculate a large number of movement parameters. The system can be customized for a variety of test chambers or wind tunnels and is very cost-effective.

The heart of the system is EthoVision, Noldus’ renowned video tracking system for the automation of behavioral experiments. The flexibility of Track3D allows for its usage in a variety of tests with a wide range of animal species. A typical example is the study of insect flight behavior in wind tunnels in response to olfactory stimuli (plant volatile compounds, pheromones, host cues, etc.) or visual cues.

Complete solution

The Track3D system is a complete solution for 3D tracking and analysis consisting of:

  • EthoVision 3.1 video tracking software
  • 3D calibration, visualization, and analysis software
  • 3D calibration object
  • computer and video components
  • extensive user documentation

Because the success of 3D video tracking depends on various factors outside the measurement system itself, Noldus offers pre-sales consultancy to assess the feasibility of 3D tracking in a customer’s laboratory and can assist with optimizing and, if necessary, customizing the measurement environment (e.g. wind tunnel design, test chamber), in order to achieve the best possible results. The Track3D system also comes with on-site installation and training.

Key benefits

The Track3D system offers a number of significant benefits for researchers:

  • 3D tracking - This provides a more complete description and analysis of flight patterns than 2D coordinate data sets. With some species, 3D analysis is indispensable to understand their orientation in space. This is especially true for odor-modulated upwind orientation in insects, in which some species move in different directions.
  • Quality - The full-size, high-resolution video records the animal’s position with high accuracy. The two cameras’ images are automatically synchronized. The software also works with infrared lighting, allowing tracking under low-light conditions or in complete darkness. Accuracy of the 3D positioning is approx. 0.5% of the dimensions of the test chamber. Track3D also offers additional lens correction for even higher spatial accuracy.
  • Cost-effective - All hardware components are relatively inexpensive, so there is no need to invest in high-end motion capture equipment. The Track3D software is an add-on module to EthoVision, allowing labs to take advantage of prior investments. Track 3D is also compatible with existing test chambers and wind tunnels.
  • Optimal for presentations – The 3D visualization software can be installed on notebook computers, allowing users to play the 3D tracks anywhere, e.g. during a conference presentation.

Developed in collaboration with academic experts

The Track3D system was developed in close collaboration with the research groups of Prof. Willem Takken (Laboratory of Entomology) and Prof. Johan van Leeuwen (Experimental Zoology Group) of Wageningen University, The Netherlands. Willem Takken is a world expert in the behavior of malaria mosquitoes and other vectors of human and veterinary diseases. Johan van Leeuwen is an international authority on motion capture, 3D movement analysis, and biomechanics in a wide range of animal species.

Willem Takken, Lucas Noldus, and Johan van Leeuwen in
front of Laboratory of Entomology’s wind tunnel air handling system.

For more detailed information about Track3D, please contact us. A detailed product leaflet is available upon request.