During my interview with HTC’s President of Vive in China, Alvin Graylin, last week, I asked if the company had any more plans for add-on peripherals for its VR headset — like its upcoming Vive Tracker — in 2017 and beyond. In response, he pointed out that there could be “hundreds” of accessories for the HTC Vive this year because of that Tracker.
“I think the Tracker is already creating new peripherals that we don’t have to design,” Graylin said. He explained that the feedback he’d heard from developers that have used the device so far was that it enabled them to create experiences they previously wanted to make but couldn’t because they weren’t “hardware guys.”
That’s a story that could apply to a lot of Vive developers. The base kit’s position-tracked controllers do a great job of representing your hands in VR, but when it comes to actually picking things up you’ll notice the disparity between the virtual and real world. The Vive Tracker closes that gap.
“We’re going to enable a lot of people who aren’t hardware developers to make stuff…who if they just had a baseball bat now boom they’ve got something like Trinity,” Graylin continued. “That’s the kind of stuff that will happen and they’re going to be more creative than we are because they know what they want to sell.”
“I would think by the middle of this year we could have hundreds of hardware accessories for the Vive,” he added.
That sounds ambitious but I can already count four different accessories I’ve tried with the Tracker, and it’s not even in the hands of most developers yet. At CES this year I saw it paired with TrinityVR, as well as a fire hose and a smartphone. Then at MWC last week I used three Trackers for full-body tracking, and saw a spray paint demo that will one day use the kit too.
Those ideas came from just a handful of developers, and it sounds like plenty more are coming. Around 2,300 teams applied to get a Tracker dev kit from HTC last month, and the development community will be the first to get access to the device this year before a full launch later on.