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How HTC Vive trackers to set to thrive in the VR arena?

juegostudios profile image Juego Studios Updated on ・4 min read

HTC has come a long way in the VR industry. CCS Insight gives an estimate that the number of AR and VR devices being sold will be a staggering 24 million in 2018. HTC Vive will obviously have a gargantuan share in this. HTC’s Vive trackers lets the users greater flexibility in movement as they are mounted on the hands, legs and objects naturally. They are the latest innovation in VR space which can be used for gaming, dancing etc. The R&D team at HTC Vive have really proved themselves capable in all aspects related to VR.

The technological concept behind Vive tracker is similar to that of the Vive and its controllers. Based on the infrared signals put out from the base stations, the Vive tracker assesses its position in a room. The sensors accurately determine where these signals fall from the device and are appropriately converted into an in-game equivalent position.

Below are some of the devices which are the breakdown of Vive tracker and its bundles.

• One standalone tracker
• Tracker + Hyper Blaster
• Tracker + Rackets

• Racket Set (no Tracker included)
• Vive System + Tracker + Rackets set
• Set of Track Straps

The trackers will be used in mainly two ways like

Extensions: If you’re holding something in your hand then the tracker really connects you to it.
More tracking: As the tracker is connected to your body the game has more data as to the position of your body parts. Hence it replaces the controllers in a sense and also improves upon it by enabling the user to move about freely whereas the user has to hold the controller steadily in his hand.

Vive tracker specifications

The HTC Vive Tracker is a round device that has some SteamVR tracking sensors. The tracker bears much resemblance to the Vive motion controller devoid of a hole in the center and a handle. The tracker 99.65mm across is actually smaller than the Vive motion controller 116mm. This device comes with 18 SteamVR IR sensors that assess its orientation and X,Y and Z axis positions. In order to increase tracking fidelity these sensors are placed around the upper surface of the tracker. There are three protruding surfaces on top of the tracker which exposes sensors at a variety of angles. As per HTC, a 270° trackable field of view can be realized through its sensor placement.

There is a power button between the 3 sensors bumps shaped like a Vive logo. An LED lights up when one presses and holds the button. Various colors and resulting patterns depict different states. Strong green is for normal operation and good battery status; a blinking blue light signifies that the tracker is pairing with the receiver; blinking red light tells to recharge the tracker; orange indicated that the tracker is plugged in.

At the Tracker’s base there is a set of exposed copper pogo pins for peripheral hardware which provide signal for each wand controller function. This enables hardware developers to closely map peripheral inputs to the Vive controller inputs. The Tracker also comes with a micro-USB port not only to receive data from peripheral devices but also for charging the internal battery.

The trackers also communicate wirelessly with the host computer. Each tracker requires its own wireless USB receiver although they use the similar wireless protocol. If one intends to use more than multiple Vive trackers then the motherboard in the PC should have a port for each one. 1500 mAh Lithium-ion batteries give upto 4 persistent hours of battery power. Charging through a USB port takes about 3 hours and charging through a wall plug takes about an hour and a half. A portable USB charger extends the tracker’s battery life. A rifle peripheral has an internal battery which charges the Vive tracker while you play.
There is a 1/4” tripod mounting point at the bottom portion of the tracker. One can attach accessories to them. The surface on this comes with a rubberized friction pad which firmly plants the tracker on flat surfaces.

Use cases

• Capturing full body movements as in avatar motion capture.
• Collaborative virtual reality which determines where people, objects are positioned with respect to the virtual environment.
• Creating a scenario to tracks where someone’s body position is and so on. Ex, in Holosuit, this was used to help people do Yogic postures.
• Track/research body movements other than those of hands and head.
• Training simulations where a user goes through the procedure which involves their entire body.

Peripherals can be created by hardware developers that interact with the tracker which reduces R&D costs and time to market for tracked peripherals. HTC even offers code to support full body tracking to developers. Oculus Rift was catching upto Vive but these trackers are going to leave them behind big time.

Conclusion

Vive tracker creates flawless connection between the Vive system and your attached tools. If users are inquisitive enough they can also realize mixed reality(MR) videos by attaching tracker to a DSLR camera. One can develop VR games and experiences that were not possible before with the new Vive tracker. Users can play musical instruments or go for rock climbing with the help of this flexible, compact and easy to attach tracker. The possibilities are endless.

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