Valve today announced that it will provide royalty-free licensing to third parties interested in using the SteamVR ‘Lighthouse’ tracking technology to create new tracked objects like VR controllers and other peripherals.

Lighthouse is Valve’s system that provides the ‘room-scale’ tracking capabilities of the HTC Vive and it’s motion controllers. More than a year ago, the company said they planned to expose the inner-workings of the system and allow third-parties to create compatible peripherals.

Image Courtesy Doc-OK.org
See Also: Analysis of Valve’s ‘Lighthouse’ Tracking System Reveals Accuracy | Image Courtesy Doc-OK.org

Today the company finally revealed just how that will work: a royalty-free license to use the technology to create third-party products that interoperate with the Lighthouse system. Licensees will need to pay $2,975 to attend a training course, but other than that, there’s no licensing fees or royalties for using the tech, Valve says.

Companies like Tactical Haptics and StrikerVR have been waiting for Valve and Oculus to license their tracking technology. Valve’s announcement today makes it the first to do so.

Valve is opening the Lighthouse tracking tech for companies to create tracked objects and peripherals, but for now they’re not allowing the creation of third-party basestations, the little boxes that emit lasers which are essential to making the tracking work. The company explains why in an FAQ about the tracking licensing:

For now we need to make sure that there is complete compatibility among base stations and tracked devices. Longer term, we do want the hardware community to help us evolve base station design and to help innovate in that area, but given our own limited bandwidth we need to push that collaboration out to some future date.

And further specifies that, so long as the license is followed, companies don’t need Valve’s permission to sell a Lighthouse-enabled product.

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Yes, you can sell your own products wherever you want. No, you don’t need Valve’s review and approval to ship your product, but you do need to comply with the license to be able to use our technology, brands, names, or trademarks.

valve-steamvr-trackig-dev-kit-lighthouseValve will be providing a Lighthouse ‘Licensee Dev Kit’ to companies who apply to use the technology. It includes:

Dev Kit Contents

  • A modular reference tracked object suitable for attaching to prototype HMDs or other devices
  • Full complement of EVM circuit boards to enable rapid prototyping of your own tracked object
  • 40 individual sensors for building your own tracked object
  • Accessories to enable custom prototypes

Tools

  • Software toolkit to assist with optimal sensor placement
  • Calibration tools for prototyping and manufacturing

Documentation

  • Schematics and layouts for all electronic components
  • Mechanical designs for the reference tracked object and accessories
  • Datasheets for the sensor ASICs

Hopefully the move will mean the possibility of an ecosystem of peripherals, and even Lighthouse-tracked VR headsets, giving users choice among headsets and among more specialized controllers/accessories, like guns, swords, wheels and more.

  • xebat

    Finally. Now please get some Gun/Airsoft manufacturer to make a life size and proper weighted tracked gun for H3VR !

  • Matt R

    This is going to be awesome. ManusVR gloves will be really good now

  • Hamish Pain

    Hmm. I wanted to make an art installation with Lighthouse tracking on random objects, though not in the VR space. Shame that I’ll have to wait… The actual tracking software is pretty straightforward, so I wonder if those sensor boards will be available without licenses

  • Alx

    Hadoken! Tsumak-sempu-kyen! Shoryuken! ;)

  • Benwonone

    Oculus should consider doing the same ;)

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    Whooohooo.
    Finally!

  • DAVE

    How about some kind of mini additional sensors to shows where i put my beer down

    • Klasodeth

      That could be done with a software solution. If the Chaperone system was modified to allow a person to manually draw shapes with a controller, you could draw an outline around the spot your beer is meant to go.

  • DaKangaroo

    In a word?

    Game-changing.

    And I don’t say it lightly either!

    There are so many people out there eager to develop 3rd party tracking accessories for VR who have been just waiting for Valve to come out with exactly this. The price is fair, the system is reasonably open while enforcing Valve’s control for now to just steer the system so it doesn’t fall apart immediately. It’s going to be really encourage a lot of development of third party headsets, controllers, accessories, maybe full body tracking? An immediate obvious desirable first product would be to create is some anklets/shoes, gloves/bracelets and a belt/harness for hip, hands and feet tracking for full body tracking.

    Thankyou Valve!

  • Sam Illingworth

    Damn, I’m gonna end up spending a fortune on peripherals aren’t I? Gonna need one of those rifles (http://www.roadtovr.com/striker-vr-arena-infinity-haptic-vr-gun-force-feedback-effects/) and one (or two) pistols, which I assume they’ll also make, for shooters, and who knows what else?

    I think something for leg tracking will be good.

  • DiGiCT Ltd

    Another great move from Valve / HTC.
    Yes thinking on steering wheels to solve in VR syncs.
    Knee/Shoulder/Feet trackpads would be great too.
    And ofcourse a camera tracker so we can record with an external camera :)

    Let’s see what will come, exciting news !

  • Robbie Cartwright

    Cannot wait for tactical haptics to come out with a basestation trackable controller! That’ll be awesome! Now Oculus needs to do the same so we can have some weight-interactive Touch controllers too…

  • WyrdestGeek

    That sounds pretty spiffy. :-)

  • David Nahon

    Excellent move, Professional VR users will love it !

  • Matthew Lynch

    Thank you Valve!!!

  • Perseus Smith

    What about tinkerers wanting to play with the API?

  • sirlance

    Gloves….i need to get my hands on virtual things…