With three variations of SteamVR trackers underneath its belt, HTC has been a number one enabler of full-body monitoring in VR. Now the corporate’s newest tracker might make it even simpler to carry your physique into VR.
HTC’s new standalone Vive tracker (nonetheless unnamed) has an easy objective: work like the corporate’s present trackers, however simpler and on extra platforms.
The ‘simpler’ half comes because of inside-out monitoring—utilizing on-board cameras to permit the system to trace its personal place, reasonably than exterior beacons like these utilized by the corporate’s prior trackers.
To that finish, issues appear actually promising to date. I acquired to demo the brand new Vive tracker at GDC 2023 this week and was impressed with how nicely all the pieces went.
With two of the brand new Vive trackers strapped to my ft, I donned a Vive XR Elite headset and jumped right into a soccer recreation. Once I appeared down at my ft, I noticed a pair of digital soccer sneakers. And after I moved my ft in real-life, the soccer sneakers moved on the similar time. It took lower than two seconds for my thoughts to say ‘hey these are my ft!’, and that’s a testomony to each the accuracy and latency being very strong with the brand new tracker.
That’s not a giant deal for older trackers that use SteamVR Monitoring, which has lengthy been thought of the gold commonplace for VR monitoring. However to duplicate an identical stage of efficiency in a very self-contained system that’s small and strong sufficient to be worn in your ft… that’s a giant deal for individuals who crave the added immersion that comes with bringing extra of your physique into VR.
All through the course of my demo, my ft had been all the time the place I anticipated to see them. I noticed no unusual spasms or freezing in place, no desync of coordinate planes between the tracker and the headset, and no drifting of the angle of my ft. That allowed me to simply neglect that I used to be sporting something particular on my ft and easily give attention to monitoring to kick soccer balls right into a objective.
Whereas the tracker labored nicely all through, the demo had an odd caveat—I had ft however no legs! That makes it form of bizarre to attempt to juggle a soccer ball whenever you count on to have the ability to use your shin as a backboard however watch because the ball rolls proper over your digital foot.
Ostensibly that is the very factor that trackers like this could be capable of repair; by attaching two extra trackers to my knees, I ought to be capable of have a virtually full illustration of my leg actions in VR, making experiences like ‘soccer in VR’ doable once they merely wouldn’t work in any other case.
I’m undecided if the demo app merely wasn’t designed to deal with further monitoring factors on the knees, or if the trackers are at the moment restricted to simply two, however HTC has confirmed the ultimate inside-out Vive tracker will assist as much as 5 trackers along with the tracked headset and controllers.
So the inside-out issue is the ‘simpler’ half, however what concerning the different objective of the tracker—to be out there on extra platforms than simply SteamVR Monitoring?
Properly, the demo I used to be taking part in was truly operating purely on the standalone Vive XR Elite. To attach the trackers, a small USB-C dongle must be related to the headset to facilitate the proprietary wi-fi connection between the dongle and the trackers. HTC says the identical dongle can plug right into a PC and the trackers will work simply effective by SteamVR.
The corporate additionally says it’s dedicated to creating the trackers OpenXR appropriate, which suggests (in idea) any headset might assist them in the event that they wished.
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I solely acquired to make use of it in a single configuration (on my ft) and in a single surroundings (a big workplace house). So there’s nonetheless the query of how strong they are going to be. For now although, I’m suitably impressed.
If these trackers actually work in addition to they appear from their first impression, it might open the door to a brand new wave of individuals experiencing the added immersion of full-body monitoring in VR… however there’s nonetheless the lingering query of value, which traditionally by no means appears to be fairly proper shopper VR market relating to HTC. Till then, our fingers shall stay crossed.
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