A robotics company named SoftEther introduced a new product called Quma this week. The miniature figure allows an animator to pose it, and the sensors inside of it transmit the exact position it's in to a computer, and a 3D model can be posed directly from Quma.
More than just for static poses, as you move the figure around and change its articulations, the software will mimic the actions, allowing the 3D model to be animated very easily, without the use of motion capture gear. No mention yet as to the price or release date. Here's a video demonstration.