HTC Announces Vive Tracker to Power Next Generation VR Accessories

by Joe Durbin • January 4th, 2017

HTC announced a brand new component for its Vive family of virtual reality products.

The new addition revealed at CES 2017 is known as the “Vive Tracker” and its purpose is to give developers the opportunity to more easily turn ordinary objects into objects that can be tracked in VR using the Vive’s “lighthouse” tracking system. The Vive Tracker is said to begin shipping commercially in Q2 this year. A price will be announced, “as we move closer to the shipping date,” according to HTC’s general manager for Vive, Daniel O’Brien.

O’Brien announced the Vive Tracker during a press conference and during his remarks he explained “[the Vive tracker was] built from the ground up just like the [Vive] VR headset we use today, built to work with SteamVR tracking.”

Read More: HTC Announces Deluxe Deluxe Vive Headstrap with Audio Similar To Rift’s

As far as official specs go, the Vive Tracker measures 10 cm in length across its face, which is just shy of a standard Vive controller’s head. It is said to boast six hours of battery life in constant use and has a screw hole for easy installation onto the object of your choice.

The Vive Tracker gives developers a two pronged approach for playing inside the lines of the Vive’s tracking system. According to O’Brien, “Now we have two solutions. Developers can learn how to build for our system through our ongoing Synapse training online, and now they also have the ability to work with us by building with a Vive Tracker.”

After the press conference O’Brien discussed the design of the Vive Tracker with UploadVR, stating that its unique shape was designed “so that it could be spotted from the most angles possible,” and that internally the Vive Tracker is “essentially what’s packed into the standard controller.”

vrsenal-player-two

The HTC press room also had a myriad of booths set up where developers could showcase their Vive creations, many of which were utilizing their shiny new Vive Trackers. Just at this session alone we saw a baseball bat, machine gun, and wireless controller gloves that were all working on Vive thanks to this new tracker. We will have more detailed updates on those experiences as the week goes on but for now the news is that Vive is ready to expand: one hockey puck at a time.

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  • adrian meyer

    Yes.. a gun controller for the vive would be awesome, as cool as it is it just doesn’t feel right holding something that isn’t there. in my opinion.

    • 13penguins

      I’ve got nerve damage on my left arm, so holding steady without an actual object in my hand is extremely difficult. I’m happy to see where this is going.

  • jimrp

    Where are the new controllers?

    • David Dewis

      Those prototype controllers were just that, early prototypes. Expect them with Vive 2.0, whenever that may be.

      • DougP

        Re: ” Expect them with Vive 2.0″
        Pure speculation.

        • David Dewis

          Of course it’s speculation, none of us know anything. But Valve have been very adamant that we won’t see a Vive 2 soon and the controllers shown off were described as very early prototypes, with even the ribbon cable showing. It’s a fair expectation that they would be bundled with the next iteration of the headset.

          • DougP

            Re: “But Valve have been very adamant that we won’t see a Vive 2 soon”
            All the more reason to think that the controllers will come out before then.

            It’s just as fair speculation that they’ll ship it separately, as an add-on with the Vive 1.
            I think that the *modular* approach makes a lot of sense. Also easier to upgrade over time, just buy new headset w/o a bundle.

  • Jason Wilhelm

    I would want to attach this tracker to a physical keyboard, so I can locate and use my keyboard in VR.

    • mirak

      I want to attach it to the steam controller.
      But the device seems too big.
      It should have been like 4cm at most.

  • David Dewis

    As an oculus user, I’d love to see the rift get something similar. Should be easier as all that’s needed essentially is a dumb base with ir leds on it.

    • Private draken

      You would think it would be easier, but not really. The IR LEDS would need to be blinking, which means its not just dumb. Then there is also the whole issue of telling the ‘puke’ what to blink at so its uniquely IDed by the Oculus Cameras.

      Where as with these pucks, you would simply place it on something, and you would be done(at least tracking wise). Then you would set up the model or whatever to match with the real object etc.

      Not sure people think the Oculus Tracking system is ‘better’ or ‘easier’ in any sense. As it stands, Setting up room scale for Oculus is a million times harder than Vive, and is prone so many many issues. Also the fact that 3 cameras,rift and touch is taking up 10% cpu usage on i7s, is not a good sign for adding anything more to the whole system.

    • polysix

      oculus are way behind the curve. their arrogance has allowed them to drop the ball multiple times since selling out to facebook. Forget them.

      • James Friedman

        LOL behind the curve? Your ignorance and bias is showing

        • Nicholas

          Please enlighten us how they are in any way ahead of the curve?

  • John J

    This is perfect! I have an old toy Laser Tag Rifle I was saving to mod for lighthouse tracking once the S/HDKs were available. This makes it simple so I just have to build the controls I want on the rifle and screw this to the barrel. It has a mini USB on the side for charging and FW updates and a threaded base that appears to fit photographic tripod mounts like the light houses. There is also a conspicuous row of gold electronic surface-contact pads on the bottom to one side likely to link to electronic devices. That’s probably how that VR camera they showed off works that has controls on it. They had a wizard staff this thing just screwed onto the top of at the CES demo. One story I saw said developers and partners can already order these things which explains the VR camera coming out first.

    They also showcased some builders inventions like finger tracking gloves with this thing attached on the wristband like a watch for dual hand/finger tracking. Its small enough it would sit inside the hoop of the Vive controllers some. Given a full Vive controller separately is around $130 and this thing only has the tracking sensors, a battery that lasts 4-6 hours, and maybe Bluetooth I bet it will cost around $40-$50. All those components are cheap and common. If I only needed one maybe id pay ~$80 but grumble that they are being greedy. I hope they are cheap enough you could buy a few realistically. I would mount a pair to the tip of steel toe boots, knee pads, and elbow pads for rigid hard points for mo-cap. Combined with the headset and hand controllers or those gloves that would be a pretty complete full body mo-cap setup without having to mess with IK on the model because all major pivot points are covered for animation with real live inputs. Very excited!!!!

  • This will make makers super happy! I don’t think of them as a standard consumer solution, but more as something for makers, arcades and business applications

  • Altares

    What’s wrong with you guys? Nobody thought about using these to add more body parts (feet, pelvis, shoulders)?

  • jimrp

    Should attach them to your legs. So we can (fake)walk.

    • Nicholas

      Exactly what I was thinking! Leg or feet presence would be great, open up a few more locomotion options.

  • Brett Wagner

    How do they do the trigger, it seems like this thing needs a tiny bit of gpio so you can slave a button or three off it.