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 deliver your physique into VR.

HTC’s new standalone Vive tracker (nonetheless unnamed) has a simple purpose: work like the corporate’s current 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, fairly than exterior beacons like these utilized by the corporate’s prior trackers.

Photograph by Highway to VR

To that finish, issues appear actually promising thus far. I obtained to demo the brand new Vive tracker at GDC 2023 this week and was impressed with how nicely every thing went.

Photograph by Highway to VR

With two of the brand new Vive trackers strapped to my toes, I donned a Vive XR Elite headset and jumped right into a soccer recreation. After I appeared down at my toes, I noticed a pair of digital soccer sneakers. And once I moved my toes in real-life, the soccer sneakers moved on the identical time. It took lower than two seconds for my thoughts to say ‘hey these are my toes!’, 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 customary for VR monitoring. However to copy the same degree of efficiency in a very self-contained system that’s small and strong sufficient to be worn in your toes… that’s a giant deal for many who crave the added immersion that comes with bringing extra of your physique into VR.

All through the course of my demo, my toes had been at all times 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 toes. That allowed me to simply overlook that I used to be sporting something particular on my toes and easily deal with monitoring to kick soccer balls right into a purpose.

Whereas the tracker labored nicely all through, the demo had an odd caveat—I had toes however no legs! That makes it type of bizarre to attempt to juggle a soccer ball whenever you anticipate 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 have the ability to repair; by attaching two extra trackers to my knees, I ought to have the ability to have a virtually full illustration of my leg actions in VR, making experiences like ‘soccer in VR’ attainable once they merely wouldn’t work in any other case.

I’m unsure if the demo app merely wasn’t designed to deal with extra monitoring factors on the knees, or if the trackers are at present restricted to simply two, however HTC has confirmed the ultimate inside-out Vive tracker will help as much as 5 trackers along with the tracked headset and controllers.

Trackers can, after all, be used to trace extra than simply your physique, although apps that help these sorts of tracked equipment are uncommon | Photograph by Highway to VR

So the inside-out issue is the ‘simpler’ half, however what concerning the different purpose of the tracker—to be obtainable on extra platforms than simply SteamVR Monitoring?

Nicely, the demo I used to be taking part in was really operating purely on the standalone Vive XR Elite. To attach the trackers, a small USB-C dongle must be linked 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 nice via SteamVR.

The corporate additionally says it’s dedicated to creating the trackers OpenXR suitable, which implies (in concept) any headset might help them in the event that they needed.

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I solely obtained to make use of it in a single configuration (on my toes) 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 with regards to HTC. Till then, our fingers shall stay crossed.