Vive Tracker Powers Google Daydream Wireless Room Scale Hack

by Jamie Feltham • February 17th, 2017

Back at CES we met a small creative studio with some big technical plans for the HTC Vive’s upcoming Tracker peripheral.

The team’s name was Master of Shapes, and they were one of the groups that HTC had gathered to showcase some of the many applications for the new device. Specifically, they made a technical demonstration for makeshift local multiplayer VR, called Cover Me. The tracker was attached to a phone, which itself was attached to a gun peripheral, allowing someone to look into a VR user’s world and help them out by shooting enemies. The potential for multiplayer was huge, but it also showcased how the Tracker could be used to make smartphone-based headsets positionally tracked.

At the time, Master of Shapes said that was “fully doable”. Now? It’s been done.

processstills-1 ย The team today posted a look at its experiments attaching the Tracker to Google’s Daydream View, a device that doesn’t positionally track a user’s head movements. With a 3D printed mount, the Tracker is stuck on the front of the headset and tracked by the same base stations that track the Vive itself. The team’s work on Cover Me meant it had already figured out how to translate the Tracker’s positional data to Android phones, thus it was quickly able to make a true mobile room scale VR experience.

In the blog, Creative Director Adam Amaral noted that the experience wasn’t as solid as the traditional Vive setup and, since there are no Daydream games that have implemented positional tracking tech, the team used its demo for Cover Me instead.

“I will say the daydream with added room scale is pretty awesome,” Amaral wrote. “There is something really cool about having no tether and sharper resolution.”

daydreamheader_split-2

The concept is purely experimental, but Master of Shapes plans to keep on with the experimentation. Speaking to UploadVR, Amaral said the team was also going to look at attaching the device to Daydream’s remote controller, which currently offers tracking in only a few directions. In theory, adding the Tracker to the device could make it a fully tracked device akin to Vive’s own wands. He also teased that the company has been using the Tracker with a phone supported by Google’s Tango 3D mapping tech too.

This could also turn Cover Me itself from a game in which one player is in VR, and one is using a phone, to two players being fully in VR. People with both a Vive and a smartphone-based headset could experience new types of VR content.

We’re not sure how viable the concept is in the market, but it’s still a fascinating concept. The Vive Tracker is expected to release in Q2, and there are plenty of developers that want to get their hands on it.

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  • Nice tech demo… agree with the doubts on the business side

  • Albert Hartman

    now just need to up framerate from 60fps to 90fps

    • Mike

      Or at least 70. I’d settle for 70 FPS – the Oculus DK2 refresh rate was good enough for me.

      • NooYawker

        70 fps would make me really sick. I can tell when my headsets drops some frames, feels like someone put a vacuum in my brain.

        • Robert Rouhani

          ATW/ASW should help a lot with that. Skipping a frame is way worse than running at a steady 70fps instead of 90.

        • 9of9

          It shouldn’t be that bad going from 90 to 70 as dropping frames at 90. Dropping frames interrupts the smoothness of perceived motion and the jitters themselves can be disorientating, but it also means the headset renders the same image two frames in a row, so the refresh rate is effectively going from 90 to 45, so it’s not a comparable experience to running at a smooth 70Hz refresh.

  • Jamie Reed

    If they can do this with day dream, I guess this could give oculus owner the possibility of true room scale with 3 pucks when connected to steamVR.

    • Mourz

      Maybe they will make a combo pack that sells a puck and lighthouses targetted towards oculus users who picked the wrong platform.

  • user

    why doesnt it look like the valve guy? they need to redesign the tracker ๐Ÿ™‚

    the tracker is too big. if they cant make it smaller, lighthouse cant become a standard for many headsets

    • NooYawker

      lol.. took me a second.. I was wondering.. the big bald guy?? Then I remembers, the red valve handle.

      • user

        ya, i was thinking of the skinny guy with the handle in the eye ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Robert Rouhani

      It’s that large because it’s one self-contained unit that has to avoid being occluded by whatever it’s attached to. If someone made a daydream-type headset with the Lighthouse tech integrated it wouldn’t end up taking very much room at all. All the tech is freely available to do this now, too. Just a matter of time.

      • user

        that is possible but i think the magic leap design is what we will see as a standard in a few years. glasses with inside out tracking and for vr an additional light blocking visor. the lighthouse trackers would be additional add ons to bump accuracy or at least save battery power. the tracker could be build into the visor but if only 30% of the customers use it then you might not want do that and keep it optional.

        • Robert Rouhani

          I’m talking on the scale of months, not years though. Schematics, reference designs, and an HDK are available as part of the SteamVR Tracking Licensee program. Parts can be purchased today in quantity to manufacture Lighthouse tracked objects. A few hundred companies are already integrating Lighthouse into their products, the program started around last Sept. The simplest devices should be on the market in a month or two (design for manufacture/injection molded plastic takes a few months, even if you know what you’re doing).

          If anyone has been working on a mobile headset with the Lighthouse tech, they are probably very close to being ready to release. Like before June close.

          • user

            hopefully. it would be great for vr headsets – all types.