7 Things We Can’t Wait To Stick The Vive Tracker On

by Jamie Feltham • March 27th, 2017

I sort of see the new Vive Trackers as like the post-it notes of VR, in that I want to stick them to absolutely everything. I often walk down the street looking at things you could virtualize by clamping HTC’s new peripheral to them. In fact I probably scare people when they see me contemplating a trash can and talking to myself about what it could do for VR.

Okay, that doesn’t really happen, but the Vive Tracker does open up a new world of possibilities for SteamVR. The kit, which is essentially a piece of plastic that your base stations will track the position of just like they do your headset and controllers, is already shipping out to developers, and we’ve seen a handful of ideas from the community.

But we’ve had a few ideas of our own. Here’s what we’d like to stick the Vive Tracker to when it starts to roll out later this year.

Instruments

rock band vr palmer luckey

When you think about it, Oculus and Harmonix thought up the basic concept of the Vive Tracker a long time ago, when it stuck a Touch to a plastic guitar and gave us Rock Band VR. We’ll find out how they worked out for the pair in a few weeks, but the Tracker could actually bring our real instruments into VR so that we could play them in front of scores of adoring virtual fans. There’s a lot of potential for a Rocksmith-style VR tutoring game here.

Cups

We all know playing VR games can be physically demanding — my shoulders still hurt from my latest round of Paulo’s Wing — so it’s a pretty good idea to stay hydrated throughout. Removing your headset and finding your icy beverage is annoying; why not just have it in the virtual world too? Note that this won’t solve VR’s awkward angles issue where most cups won’t actually be able to tip into your mouth without hitting the bottom of your headset. Forget positional tracking; tell John Carmack this is where the real innovation is needed.

Phones And Tablets

cover-me

I’ve already seen a pretty cool multiplayer VR game that stuck a Vive Tracker to a phone, but I’m talking about bringing those devices into the virtual world with the user. Smart devices could be incredibly versatile input mechanisms for specific VR experiences. Imagine what it could do for exisiting experiences like Tilt Brush, allowing you to fine tune your creations with greater depth. Plus it would be great to quickly flick through your phone in VR.

Toy Lightsabers

Since 1977 humans have dreamed of what it would feel like to hold a real lightsaber and do glorious battle with evil forces. We came pretty darn close in 2016 with Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine but we could come even closer with the Vive Tracker stuck to a plastic sword. Imagine two of these things in the hands of two friends having what felt like a real lightsaber battle with tactile feedback. Okay, better make them out of foam instead. No headshots, either.

Friends

Full Body VR

We’ve already used the Vive Trackers to bring our own bodies into VR experiences, but what if we put them on our friends? What types of experiences might be possible? Imagine the kinds of co-op games you could make in which friends could work with you and have a real presence in the virtual world. Again, you’re probably dealing with a lot of health and safety concerns, but this is definitely something that games like Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes should consider for future updates.

Pets

Some readers with a friendly cat or dog will probably be familiar with the stomach-churning guilt that comes with accidentally kicking them while walking around in VR. It’s all too easy to forget that a four-legged creature might be trotting up to say hello while you’re jumping around in your living room. I would happily pay $100 not to have that experience again and attach a VR life jacket to my pets. This might also be good for babies.

Oculus Rifts

Oculus-CV1-Display-4k

The Tracker might not be the perfect answer but it’s certainly one possible way of achieving a larger room-scale setup for your Rift. As Valve’s tracking hardware continues to evolve it would be great to give Rift owners the option to buy some base stations and a few trackers to get larger room-scale tracking on their headsets.

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  • GarynTX

    Giggedy

  • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

    We’re all men in here. Let’s be honest. I think we all know the REAL INSTRUMENT we will try to track 1st…lol. The thought of beating a zombie to death with your tracked peen is just too much to resist. No judgements here…

    • Texmex

      Eh.. Actually, real men have a girlfriend to track it for them.

      • DougP

        You don’t appear to understand the VR gaming market demographics – haha, girlfriend, that’s funny!

        • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

          The attack of a jealous peon. You sound like a console peasant talking about a PC gamer. How embarrassing..

          • DougP

            Re: “Eh.. Actually, real men ”
            real men – Actually don’t brag about having a spouse/companion/significant other.
            real men – Don’t make bizzaro world comments about PC vs consoles, completely out of nowhere. They have confidence in their platforms.
            real men – Have a sense of humour. Well…the ones the manage to acquire & keep a spouse/companion/significant other very long. 😉

          • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

            My PC vs Console comment made sense. That’s the same crap Console players say about PC gamers you moron.

            ” haha, girlfriend, that’s funny!”

            ^

          • DougP

            Re: “That’s the same crap Console players say about PC gamers you moron.”
            You keep telling yourself that.
            You sound very *insecure* with supporting that “real men” & “moron” insult… maybe afraid some “Console player” with a sense of humour’s gonna come along & lure your “girlfriend” away?

            No…your comment didn’t make sense.

          • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

            You’re pretty bored I see. Maybe you should get a girlfriend. Then you could stop failing so much as a troll. Go outside and experience the world. Perhaps you might discovery for yourself, a vagina, to claim as your own.

            Feel free to have the last words(Which I won’t even bother reading). I’m through giving energy to this. I have an ACTUAL life. No time for a grown man still trying to troll people.

          • DougP

            Re: “Perhaps you might discovery for yourself, a vagina, to claim as your own.”
            Troll – your console vs PC “moron” reply = troll material.

            You go run along now & *claim* that vagina… “real man”!
            Just won’t keep it very long w/o a sense of humour.

      • DrakeDoesn’tWrite

        Couldn’t just laugh at the joke..

    • unreal_ed

      How do you know we’re all men in here?

  • Get Schwifty!

    “Rift owners the option to buy some base stations and a few trackers to get larger room-scale tracking on their headsets”

    o.O Whut? That makes no sense whatsoever….

    • DougP

      It makes sense. They could get lighthouse, a real (well tracked) motion controller…. and then just eventually replace the HMD.
      Makes sense. Selling components separately for the ecosystem is a great move – people can just buy/upgrade pieces at a time.

      • dogtato

        I read somewhere that the Vive is required to make use of the pucks

        • DougP

          It sounds like it’s just software tho’.

          I recall they’ve even hacked existing steam controllers to work with vive wands.
          Since they’ll have their own usb dongle, there’s no reason for them not to work independent of Vive.

    • Mourz

      I know a lot of rift users that are planning to do this. They want room scale.

  • NooYawker

    Tracking feet would add a lot to many games.

  • The last point, the Rift, is a huge BURN towards Oculus :D… anyway, I’ve seen a crazy guy turning his cup into a SteamVR controller attaching all sensors to it… that’s great to have some coffee while playing VR…

    • Texmex

      A cup you say. Boy he certainly sounds very crazy.

  • Benjamin Orlowski

    Cups aren’t necessary… the new premium vive head strap is beer hat compatible.

    Real firearms… now we’re talking. Blanks only please.

  • Josh Yates

    this article is unnecessary, half of the stuff he just listed off is built into the vive, u don’t need cups cuz it has the pass through camera, phones and tablets, that’s what the blu tooth is for as well as the pass through, and of course we’re going to stick vive sensors to our friends that’s what there for. and why would we buy a rift when clearly we probably already have a vive, why would we try and polish a turd

  • Totally Magical Unicorn

    My baby. I keep losing it. Now I can find it without taking off the glasses!

  • Some other ideas:

    Track a camera. Film people in front of a green screen and render the world as seen from the camera POV, then composite the two. Track a RGB+Depth camera and clip everything after at a given depth to remove the need for green screen.

    Track an RC vehicle, like a small car or a quadcopter.

    Track a base station from a second playspace oriented in a different direction.

    Put the tracker in a small cubic casing and add small motors on every side so that several of these cubes can stack themselves together and create voxel art.

  • Michael Gardner

    A pool cue for sports bar would be nice

  • I was going to say the same thing as the last paragraph. Valve and HTC would do the community a great service if they made these trackers usable without a vive hmd. Afaik, there is no issue with interference between rift and lighthouse, so I see no reason this couldn’t be done.