HTC Will Open Source Full-Body Tracking For Vive With Tracker

by Jamie Feltham • March 7th, 2017

Last week at both the Mobile World Congress and Game Developers Conference we got hands-on with the HTC Vive’s Tracker peripheral once more, and one of the best uses for it we saw was to enable full-body tracking in VR.

With three Trackers attached to our feet and waist, we walked around Cloudgate Studios’ Island 359 with a pretty accurate representation of where our bodies were in VR. We were able to kick dinosaurs in the face, opening up a new means of control and sense of presence. This particular system was created by Cloudgate itself, but will other developers be able to benefit from this type of tracking?

HTC says a separate version of full-body tracking they are working on will be shared with developers.

Speaking to UploadVR at MWC, Alvin Graylin, President of Vive in China, said that HTC had been working on a “similar system” for full body tracking in its China research lab, and would be open sourcing it for all developers to implement into their experiences for free.

The key to this system, as Graylin explained, is that it’s entirely optional. Island 359, for example, is still entirely playable with just two Vive controllers. You don’t need the Trackers to be able to experience the game but, if you do, you’ll have a more immersive experience. If the system is easy to implement and other developers catch on then this could be the biggest selling point for the Tracker, which is unexpected given its original pitch was to attach it to other objects, not yourself.

This system could also be hugely important to games like shooters. Currently, games like SUPERHOT VR (not on Vive) give you an invisible avatar, save for your hands, which can make it tricky to avoid bullets. Giving you a visible torso could help make those experiences a little easier to understand. Then there are the potential applications for more accessible VR film making and more.

Vive’s Tracker will be available to order for developers later this month for $99.99, and will be going on sale to the public for the same price later this year. Along with full body tracking, you can expect to use it to shoot guns, fight fires, and even play with friends.

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  • Happy for all the full body community, even if I believe more in full body without wearing nothing, as I do with Kinect at Immotionar. Anyway it’s a good and cheap way to emulate full body, this one that Vive will provide… and the fact that is opensource is awesome!

    • Texmex

      “Without wearing nothing”

      Facepalm.

      • Mike

        In Spanish that would be correct grammar.

        • elev8d

          Sin vestindo nada.

    • DougP

      Re: “without wearing nothing”

      So wearing *something*?

      Or did you mean – “without wearing anything”?
      So naked? Don’t see how that’ll work…but whatever floats your boat. šŸ˜‰

      • dogtato

        being naked, uh, helps the IR camera see you

    • NooYawker

      Don’t let these guys get you down. If you want to VR in the buff more power to you!

  • Me

    Seems nice, but with such a price tag for the trackers I guess the target is the arcade builders, not home users.
    I don’t see myself add another 300 on top of the vive, on top of the soon mandatory deluxe strap and on top of the wireless addon, and heck why not add some eye-tracking adapters in the mix…
    In the meatime, Oculus cut a third of the price of the pack… Hopefully, the Vive ecosystem while getting richer will also get more affordable at some point.

    • mirak

      Yes that’s too much

    • Michael Davidson

      Seriously? After you’ve already spent $800+, another $300 does it? I totally get that the cost of this equipment is quite high, but at this point another $300 for full body tracking? Sure!, Why not? The biggest issue I see is developer adoption. For the record; I own a Rift and a Vive and would gladly shell out another $300+ to enhance my experiences within either ecosystem; with the obvious caveat that I want software to use it with.

  • JSM21

    That cord could totally get tangled up around the sensors on his shoes…..good thing you have a large area to fall in, lol.

    • Nicholas

      Yeah, the sensor shape looks designed to snag dangling tether cables! Another reason to go wireless…

  • OkinKun

    Neat… But I HIGHLY doubt more than a couple game developers will add support for more than hands, for the foreseeable future. lol
    Sure, with HTC putting this out, we may see a game or 2 with support for such feet-trackers.. But because no other VR hardware company is going this direction, there won’t be much in the way of software support for the feature.. So this has limited uses, maybe more for developers to have easy access to basic motion-capture for animations tho, that could justify it’s purpose.
    It’ll be a few more years, maybe another generation or 2, before we advanced past the Head&Hands format for VR, people won’t see a need for more than that until it’s much more convenient.

    • Mike

      The issue is price – not demand. Everybody wants full-body presence.