Valve’s Upcoming Base Stations Won’t Work With Existing HTC Vives

by Jamie Feltham • June 6th, 2017

The next generation of Valve’s Lighthouse tracking technology for SteamVR will include updated components that will not be compatible with existing HTC Vive systems, we’ve confirmed. Existing base stations, however, should be capable of tracking future headsets and objects on the way from Valve and its partners.

Earlier today we reported on the reveal of details for SteamVR Tracking 2.0. Valve plans to offer a new version of its base stations, which track the position of a VR headset and other peripherals like controllers and the Vive Trackers, with improved performance and efficiency at a lower price. These stations are compatible with a refreshed component from supplier Triad Semiconductor that Valve is recommending those making SteamVR products switch to using soon.

The current base stations that come bundled with the headset will, however, be able to track future products using the refreshed component.

In theory you should be able to buy a new SteamVR headset in the future as a standalone product and use your old base stations with it. When LG releases its upcoming SteamVR headset, for example, Vive owners may not need to buy a new bundle containing all the components needed to get started; you may just need the headset and controllers.

But you might not be able to buy the new base stations and set them up with your Vive. It also means existing Vives shouldn’t be able to take advantage of the support for more than two base stations that’s coming in the 2.0 update.

This is to be expected with advancing technologies, ensuring forward compatibility among fundamental technologies like SteamVR Tracking. It’s similar to the way in which way older versions of smartphones and tablets are gradually phased out as their successors become more popular and powerful.

If you have a Vive, would you plan to get a standalone headset and keep using your current base stations when it’s time to upgrade? Or would make a complete refresh?

Tagged with:

  • Michael Barker

    just got my vive. fml.

    • wheeler

      But you can keep using your 1.0 base stations with the upcoming 2.0 HMDs/controllers. I can’t think of many cases where one would upgrade to 2.0 base stations before their 1.0 HMDs/controllers. The tracking on the Vive is good enough to last several generations–it’s absurdly good. Visuals, ergonomics and input are where VR is currently lacking.

      But if you mean to say that this might suggest that a 2nd gen HMD is imminent, well, LG announced their new HMD a few months back… (but still, if you just sell your gen 1 HMD and keep the controllers, I don’t think a gen 2 HMD will set you back very much)

      • german kyote

        That LG thing is a 1.5 gen at the most. No eye tracking and foveated rendering, just a slightly higher resolution, no or minimal higher fov and hand controllers that seem to be Vive clones.
        Hm…gen 1.2 is a more likely version number for it.

    • J.C.

      Congrats on getting a VR setup! There’s no imminent launch of a better setup, so don’t worry about it. Like Wheeler said, the tracking on your Vive, as you’ve no doubt noticed, is incredibly precise.

      That said, from the insane advances that have already been developed, I imagine the next gen Vive/Rift will make our current headsets feel like Atari 2600s. If they include eye tracking, foveated rendering and way higher res screens (all currently possible!), and a wider FOV, I think almost every current Vive/Rift owner will be upgrading.

      • Michael Barker

        Thanks i appreciate it! And yeah the lighthouse tracking system is a near 1:1 as close as technologically capable

      • Michael Barker

        not if you’re poor… :/

  • Robbie Cartwright

    Man, I hardly have even used my Vive at all yet, and it’s already being phased out? yeesh.

    • wheeler

      How is the Vive being phased out? SteamVR 2.0 devices will work with SteamVR 1.0 tracking just fine. Did you really plan to upgrade the base stations before upgrading the HMD and controllers?

      • Robbie Cartwright

        I said my Vive is being phased out, not the base stations. Of course the new headsets will work with the new and old trackers, but the hmd itself will have to be upgraded, therefore “phasing it out.” In the other comment you said “I can’t think of many cases where one would upgrade to 2.0 base stations before their 1.0 HMDs/controllers.” That argues against your point because both of us were talking about the Vive HMD itself, not the base stations. The reason we’re annoyed is because the HMD itself has to be upgraded, not because we care about the base stations that much.

        And yes, if the Vive 1 worked with the Vive 2 stations, I’d happily keep my old Vive working with new trackers. The more headsets the merrier!

        • Nicholas

          Your Vive will still be compatible with SteamVR titles for several years – it’s not going to suddenly stop working on the day the next SteamVR HMD drops. No one is forcing you to upgrade.

    • johngrimoldy

      I feel ya. This was not an inexpensive toy. A powerful enough laptop and the Vive set me back over $2K. However, this is the way of things when you buy electronics. My first DVD player cost hundreds and my first rear-projection big-screen TV cost thousands (and it was low-def — jeez!). I’ve learned to simply not look back and stress on the obsoleting of early-adopter purchases I made. Instead, I ask myself, “Did I enjoy the device when I had it and it was current?”
      Yeah, it still sucks, but we’re all catching this wave VERY early. Remember when cell phones had external battery packs and few had them?

      • Robbie Cartwright

        Oh yeah, I’m not mad about it at all really, I know this stuff happens, it was more of just surprise effect.

      • Crunchy005

        Getting it early is a ton of fun. I get to show VR to everyone I know who haven’t experienced it yet. I get to see all the first time mind blown moments. I wouldn’t get that if I waited a few gens for it. Also star trek bridge crew is a ton of fun so far. So well worth it. I don’t think the gen 1 vive is in danger of becoming completely obsolete from gen 2 VR. The upgrades you can get for it will prolong it’s life. Wireless, eye tracking insert, gen 2 controllers, etc. The modularity is nice.

  • Benjamin Stanley

    REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

  • Nicholas

    I wouldn’t have expected to be able to mix and match base stations, but it is a little disappointing they couldn’t update the firmware in the existing HMD and controllers to be compatible with the new ones.

    Still, I have no reason to get any additional base stations (it’s not a Rift after all). When upgrade time comes round, I’ll probably sell on the existing kit and get a complete refresh if there are going to be incompatibilities.

  • Rigelleo

    I plan to get a standalone headset and keep using your current base stations.

  • wheeler

    It’s a nonissue except for the very small minority of people that are planning to do warehouse scale. And even then Valve had stated very early on that the SteamVR 1.0 base stations wouldn’t work with more than 2 base stations.

    The upgrade path for 99% of gen 1 VR users (including myself) will be to upgrade to SteamVR 2.0 HMDs and controllers. And SteamVR 2.0 devices will work with SteamVR 1.0 tracking just fine.

  • Something big is coming, I guess

  • Jeff Recobs

    I’ll probably do a complete refresh when there is substantial improvement over what I currently have. Until then, I will likely not be purchasing a standalone headset to use with current base stations.

  • Creeeeeg

    I plan on getting a 3rd party headset and using SteamVR 1.0 base stations. No need to upgrade or refresh the base stations until there is a good reason for home users. It seems like Valve is targeting the audience that will bring potentially more adoption and use of their technology (the VR-cade market) while still keeping things viable for the home users.

  • Bundy

    This will be great for VR warehouse arcades. They better spring up everywhere after this.

  • Slo Creators

    You failed to mention the timeframe which won’t be for another year at least since testing and validation cycles are not complete. I would assume we will also be looking at a new headset based on the new 2K displays from Samsung, which I would be willing to buy as well. This statement was made to present a road map to developers to build with the latest sensor instead of the previous version, which is still being finalized as well.

  • J.C.

    Since this is likely going to be packed in with a new headset and the knuckles controllers, I’m going to pick up a whole new kit. My old kit can then be sold to someone who wants VR but can’t afford a new kit, or I can use it on my office rig.

    Being able to use more than two lighthouses is an exciting prospect. I use my garage for VR currently, but I can’t use the whole thing due to range issues with the base stations. Being able to add in another one or two would let me push my boundaries out a few more feet.

    • NooYawker

      I agree. I don’t see the point in simply buying news base stations.
      If you have enough space in your garage get a baseline pc and set up a second play space for friends to play coop.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if the new base stations by themselves have a greater range; IIRC, Alan Yates said the main limiting factor on range right now is the sync blinker, which they’ve eliminated from the new base stations.

  • JustNiz

    >> The current base stations that come bundled with the headset will, however, be able to track future products

    The base stations dont do any tracking they’re simply a source of scanning laser light. The headset and controllers do the actual tracking.

  • koenshaku

    I don’t see why people are saying they will upgrade so quickly when nothing is known about the new HMDs they are a year off and what can happen in that time will be interesting to see all the same. How the MS VR solution will be embraced, what the new rift HMD will look like and what SteamVR HMDs have to offer. I personally think that wireless VR is the future and they we need that going forward with minimum lag, so if these hi-resolution new VR HMDs do not have wireless solutions with minimum lag. I will keep my Vive if they produce a wireless solution that does for it.

    A high resolution HMD with an umbilical cord in a warehouse is acceptable during the birth of VR. in a year I expect us to be newly born and walking the VR earth free of such things by then. ^_^

    • polysix

      because current HMDS suck, badly, from bad blacks to god rays to low res to sde to ergonomics… doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that by 2018/2019 all these things will be vastly improved.

      • MowTin

        Yeah, I desperately want an HMD with higher resolution. My graphics card can handle it. Currently using supersampling to try and improvev image quality, but it would be so much easier and less taxing in terms of performance if we could just get at least 2K resolution on each eye.

  • Tony_Neville

    It’ll be a complete refresh or nothing from HTC, or whoever launches a VR system that’s much better than what I have now. I’m not married to any brand.

  • CodeMonkey432

    I’ll move this entire setup to the living room and build a whole new system in my VR area – so I can have local co-op.