The Implications of the Vive Tracker

Colin McMahon
Jan 25, 2017

Many virtual reality (VR) innovations debuted at CES 2017, but HTC’s new Vive accessory, the Vive Tracker, warrants special attention. The HTC Vive Tracker is a tool that will enable motion tracking with virtually any external controller. Currently, the Vive operates through two included wand controllers that come with the headset. The Tracker will expand this. Demos at CES included a rifle, a firehose, and a baseball bat. This wide range showcases the potential of applications that Tracker can unlock in VR.

 

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At CES, InfoTrends noted the large size of the Tracker. It is unknown if HTC plans to shrink down the device in future versions.

The first impulse of many developers may gravitate toward the gaming industry. The idea of specialized peripherals in gaming is nothing new (think steering wheel for racing games). That said, to reduce the Tracker to this level of technology would be an insult to what HTC has accomplished. For starters, the Tracker can be used on a wide range of options, and the integration of VR allows for much more thorough applications.

Combining it with a professional-quality baseball bat will, for instance, allow the user’s data to be tracked with a one-to-one replication of the real thing. This would mean that, if scouts in the MLB wanted to track a player’s swing – they could simply have them practice using an HTC Vive setup. The VR interface creates batting practice, while the Tracker attached to the bat measures reliable data within the swing. The process could no doubt be repeated in other sports like hockey, tennis, and lacrosse.

Some developers are seeing the Vive Tracker as a way to enhance haptic feedback gloves. By attaching the tracker to the gloves, the software of the Vive will automatically be linked to a new interface. This will greatly simplify integration will third party peripherals. Other developers are using the gadget to create an entirely new interface:

InfoTrends’ Opinion

The HTC Vive has long been an innovator in PC VR. The Vive’s wand controllers and Lighthouse tracking system have been copied/used as a basis by the competition. InfoTrends expects that the Tracker to be no different. We would not be surprised if companies like Oculus and Samsung follow suit and develop their own versions of the product. The idea of transforming any object into a VR controller has real appeal, and the potential goes far beyond the gaming market. InfoTrends will keep an eye on the Vive Tracker as it develops. It is currently slated for release in Q2 2017.

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