At CES earlier this month, HTC announced the Vive Tracker, a standalone tracking device which taps into the Vive’s Lighthouse tracking system, and which can be attached to objects to track them in VR, including purpose-built accessories. The company plans to have an official certification process for accessory makers.

The Vive Tracker is a standalone Lighthouse-tracked device, made to attach to other objects.

Yes, you can attach the Vive Tracker to pretty much anything to establish a tracking point inside the VR world, but for companies planning to make purpose-built VR accessories like guns, gloves, bats, and more which will make use of the Tracker, HTC will offer an official certification. The completion of the process, which the company plans to detail at a later date, is likely to result in something like a ‘Vive Ready’ badge that can be used on the accessories to show that HTC has verified compatibility with the Tracker, the company says.

Hands-on: HTC's New Vive Tracker Makes VR More Immersive With Specialized Accessories

“That’s why we’re going to be giving away a thousand of these [Trackers] around the world, and the ones who get them, we’re going to work with them and continue to make sure they’re compatible before they go out to market,” Alvin Wang Graylin, HTC’s China Regional President of Vive, told Road to VR at CES 2017.

Pin connections on the bottom of the Vive Tracker can be used to communicate with the accessory.

It isn’t clear yet exactly what the certification process will entail, or what benefits the grantees will be entitled to, but one obvious guess is that the company will check the accessory to make sure the Tracker mounting point is adequate in both rigidity and placement, and that the creator is properly using the input/output functionality afforded by the Tracker’s wireless connection to the host computer. That connection could be used to send information like trigger pulls and button presses through the Tracker so that the accessory can control the corresponding VR application.

One thing we’re certainly hoping for is that all officially approved Vive Tracker accessories would have a precise 3D model of the accessory available in an open repository, giving developers an easy way to integrate with any accessory brandishing HTC’s approval.

“Guns. Lots of guns.” – The Vive Tracker is likely to open to door to a range of third-party gun accessories for VR.

If the accessory plugs into the Tracker via the pin connections on the bottom, it could communicate model information to the host computer, which could be used to lookup the corresponding 3D model and bring that model quickly into the game. That might be a bit beyond the scope of HTC’s certification process for Vive Tracker accessories, but it would be especially ideal for handling what may turn into a broad range of gun choices, and other more niche use-cases too (like the crazy firehose simulator we saw at CES).

HTC says details of the certification program will be revealed when the company starts shipping the Tracker to developers, which will happen ahead of the device’s Q2 consumer launch. So far the Vive Tracker has not been priced, though Graylin says the company expects it to be attractive to end-users who want to buy one Tracker and use it across different accessories.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • dogtato

    Hopefully it will even be attractive to end-users wanting to buy 2-4

  • Sponge Bob

    Gee, those things are HUGE !

    then we have occlusion problem if you turn your back toward one of the 2 basestations…

    • jonas

      Why, as long as one basestation sees it it will track. That’s why you have two, to combat occlusion. But tracking something with one basestation is no problem as long as it sees the tracker.

    • Rogue_Transfer

      The trackers on those are projecting far away from hands, with little chance of occlusion. Just like the wand donuts don’t have any trouble and they’re much nearer.

      • Sebastien Mathieu

        Me neither BUT A TON WITH MY RIFT!!!!

    • Raphael

      I have no occlusion issues with the Vive wants unless they are stuffed down pants. Otherwise tracking is perfect.

  • JMM21

    Too you have to buy the tracker then you have to buy w/e you want to put it on. So we are looking at about $500+ on top of the $800+ of the Vive and the cost of a PC to run it…so MIN $1500+ and the price of the games to use these w/….awesome. Now a very expensive “hobby”.

    • Rogue_Transfer

      You’re over-pricing things. The tracker isn’t going to cost more than a controller(which has lots more in it(buttons, triggers, touchpad) for $150) and the plastic accessories/controllers won’t be anywhere near $350~$400.

      Just imagine, you buy one tracker, then you can use all the very, very affordable Chinese goods that will plug into it. The tracker saves a lot of expense and complexity and they can reuse their expertise in producing cheap controllers of a multitude of designs to suit every taste.

    • Raphael

      This trendy crusty journalist nonsense where we assume the entire potential VR user base needs to start from zero and buy everything. I’m surprised no one has expanded on that cliche to include cost of buying or renting a house or apartment to house the PC and VR. Because you can’t assume that everyone already owns or rents living space. Let’s see… I haz no home but I intend to buy VR so I will need 500 per month to rent an apartment. I will need extra money to power the PC and VR because currently I use candles. I also need to buy clothes comfortable for VR gaming (shorts, underpants, t-shirt). I will also need training to setup and use the VR system so let’s add another 1000.

      • Liam Coulson

        I do agree with what you’re saying, a lot of the media portrays it as outrageously expensive but even assuming you have the PC, £760 (not sure of US price but £760 is quite a lot of money here) is a big amount for VR. However I think the way they’re going with this seems to be pretty good value for money. You don’t need to buy multiple trackers, and the headset itself will never get abandoned to be replaced by a future product like with next gen consoles. The base equipment given in the main product is all you really need but they’re giving the option to buy these additional addons for extra immersion which is nice.

      • Caven

        You forgot the cost of the operating system needed for the computer, the cost of the internet access and the home network infrastructure, the cost of VR titles, the extra food needed to cover for the calories burned by movement in VR, the desk/table to put the computer on, and the chair you’ll be sitting in when not doing standing/roomscale VR. Don’t forget the cost of paint and putty to fix the walls if someone is too aggressive with the VR controllers.

        • Raphael

          I’m such a dummy forgetting those things. Thanks for reminding me. I never fully realised just how expensive this Vr thing is.

    • Liam Coulson

      I highly doubt the tracker + pistol and rifle will be $500. I’d place the prices at between $50-$100 for each piece of equipment but again, that’s optional and you can still just use the controllers that come with it. The price of the Vive is pretty high I will agree, but it isn’t like dropping $400 on a console and having to replace it in a few years – the technology of the Vive will be futureproof for quite a long time. I can’t see them making ‘Vive 2.0’ unless they were making some kind of 4K resolution headset kinda thing, but then again, that’d work just the same as the current one, just if you can afford it and can run at 4K. But the amount of people who could do that currently is miniscule so I don’t think that’ll be around for quite a few years still.

    • Caven

      I once thought about buying a gaming mouse for playing computer games, but found out I’d need an expensive computer in order to make use of the mouse.Then I found out I was going to need headphones or speakers if I wanted to hear anything, a microphone if I wanted to talk to anyone, and a gamepad, flight stick/throttle, and arcade fight stick if I wanted to properly play games that weren’t optimized for keyboard/mouse support. It really pisses me off that reviewers of computer peripherals don’t warn the customer about the very high hidden costs associated with using their products to the fullest.

      It seems especially ridiculous to me that disclaimers are always thrown out about VR requiring an expensive computer. What person who hasn’t had any prior interest in buying a computer will suddenly be interested in VR? For that matter, how many people who would be seriously interested in VR wouldn’t already have a computer with specs at least close to what was recommended. I put my most recent computer together before the VR craze, and I didn’t have to upgrade/replace a single component in order to get responsive VR. Ironically, people tend to leave out the cost of the console when talking about PSVR, and that’s a case where I’d have to include the system as part of the price, because I haven’t purchased a videogame console since the Nintendo 64.For me, the cost of buying the PSVR works out to be about the same as buying the Vive.

  • blueredgreenyellow

    I still dont see the vive tracker realy working for the home. Maybe companies but not the living room. Why would I want to buy a pistol shaped controller when the Vivie wand already has a pistol grip. Unless they are made to go with a game I don’t think it will catch on (think time crisis 3 and the gun con 2). That being said I never purchased any of the plastic holder of the wii, so maybe I’m not the target market.

    • TheTruth

      tactile feedback, VR is about actually being there. using a weird shaped controller is just another thing taking away the presence

      • Scott C

        See, I disagree. If I’m running around using a gun-shaped controller… the only thing I can do is interact with the world using a gun. The whole point of VR hand presence is to make the controllers as tactilely transparent as possible, not simply to make them mirror what’s in the game.

        So if I’m playing, say, Half-Life in VR. Do I want to feel a shotgun in my hand, or do I want to be able to take a hand off my shotgun and press a button to call the elevator in Black Mesa? I’ll pick the latter, every time.

        • TheTruth

          I think having something that can attach to the knuckle controller would be good. they will just have to changed the way games work. maybe the attachment could morph into multiple shapes to give it the slight weight distribution to feel like you’re holding the actual weapon

          Halo limited guns to two at a time and people were fine with that. even if it’s vive tracker+glove and small rifle and pistol that would work great for games like Onward.

          limiting the possibilities is just silly, Nintendo constantly changed their controllers which in turn changed the way they designed their games (which influenced the whole industry) this is the way it’s going to go

    • ra51

      I sure as heck would get the gun or rifle, even if just for the simple coolness of it. And like what was stated already, having an actual gun shaped control will add to the immersiveness of the experience. After all, it what’s VR is striving for and this is one way to do it. I personally did get the gun attachments for the Wii and PS Move because it was a much better experience than just pointing the Wii-more or Move controller at the screen for all those light gun games.

    • Sebastien Mathieu

      I want, need a rifle to play ONWARD!!! :-)

  • Rob

    But you can mount it on sex toys…. pretty sure that is the market they are going for.

  • davem

    ah, the good old licensing money grab game, surprised it took so long to port that to VR