HTC today announced two new VR accessories: a consumer version of its face-tracker and a new version of the Vive Tracker which is said to bring a large jump in battery life alongside being smaller. Both accessories are priced at $130 and will launch in the US starting on March 24th.

Vive Facial Tracker

Image courtesy HTC

HTC’s new Vive Facial Tracker is a face-tracking add-on for the Vive Pro headset. While the company had announced a development kit of the Facial Tracker back in 2019, now the company is selling a version of the device straight to consumers.

The company says the Vive Facial Tracker uses dual cameras running at 60Hz to track “38 facial movements across the lips, jaw, teeth, tongue, chin, and cheeks.” The unit includes an IR illuminator to ensure the area around the user’s mouth stays well lit for the computer-vision tracking to stay at peak performance in any lighting conditions. HTC claims 6ms of latency for the Facial Tracker.

Image courtesy HTC

The company revealed two videos of the Vive Facial Tracker in action, though admittedly they don’t do a great job of showing off the unit’s accuracy—granted, it looks like this may be the result of poor 3D model rigging more than the Facial Tracker itself.

We won’t have to wait for long to see for ourselves how the unit performs: the Vive Facial Tracker is set to launch on March 24th for $130.

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Vive Tracker 3.0

Image courtesy HTC

HTC is also announcing a new version of the Vive Tracker. The company says it is 33% smaller than its predecessor and has 75% more battery life, offering up to seven hours on a single charge.

Functionally, the Vive Tracker 3.0 is the same as the previous model, supporting SteamVR Tracking 1.0 and 2.0. It is also backwards compatible with the same pogo pin and mounting layout, which uses a standard 1/4 tripod screw.

As the only commercially available SteamVR Tracking tracker available, the Vive Tracker has become the de facto standard over the years for tracking additional accessories or limbs inside of VR; some users are even using them to breakdance in VR. However, the Vive Tracker is expected to see some competition later this year.

While weight and size have gone down, unfortunately price is going up. The Vive Tracker 3.0 is priced at $130 (compared to $100 for the 2.0 version) and due to launch on March 24th.

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  • TechPassion

    Waste of effort and time. What a nonsense. Can’t they just release Quest 2 competitor, with higher resolution than Quest 2, better LCD/OLED and wider FOV? Everybody, even grandmother knows this is needed, but not HTC. Is anybody from HTC reading this?

    • Amni3D

      The Vive trackers make a ton of money, and the VR market exists outside of standalone. Even so, I just want a well priced HTC HMD to announce, standalone or PC.

      Tbh, standalone is overhyped x10, I don’t care for it much.

      • Mike549

        Well priced. HTC. Pick one.

      • thatguyofficial

        “The Vive trackers make a ton of money”

        Source?

        • Amni3D

          They made 3 revisions, and people complain about them being sold out from time to time.

          • thatguyofficial

            That’s not about too many being sold but too little being produced. I’ve contacted both HTC and Valve to become a hardware partner firm to add SteamVR tracking to my products. Guess what, both didn’t respond at all, after numerous attempts, which went on for months. Even Tundra Labs stopped responding very soon by apparently being preoccupied with their Kickstarter, but did mention about there being base station supply issues.

            And people keep wondering why startups like us don’t partner with them and do our own inside-out or outside-in instead or go with things like Nolo. It’s because these firms don’t really care much about their own products. Heck, even some large firms use Nolo over Valve.

    • ymo1965

      Nice to see HTC gets their priorities right lol

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    • Charles

      Quest 2’s 2160p is all the resolution we should be asking for right now, until other major factors are improved (OLED especially).

      • TechPassion

        One is not against the other. Resolution can be bumped up independently. OLED has its own problems. G2 panel is amazing too.

        • Charles

          They kind of are. R&D and manufacturing costs spent on pushing the limits on one spec could be spent on other specs. And OLED is more expensive than LCD for equivalent resolution and refresh rate.

          Poor contrast and black levels really take away a lot from immersion in VR. LCD VR in dark environments espcially feels like having a cheap laptop screen strapped to my face, rather than being in an environment.

          • Cless

            Yup, I have a “Curse” that others apparently don’t suffer from.
            To me even OLED have an okay-ish black level, since they don’t let them turn off completely because of black smear.
            Trying an LCD, even the top of the class ones just makes me want to barf from how poor they look when there is any kind of shadow/darkness, in fact, I would rather have black smear than an LCD display.

          • Charles

            Agreed. Ever since I compared an LCD and an OLED headset side-by-side, I could never even consider an LCD headset again. Even bright environments are messed up by LCD – makes a sunny day look overcast and dull.

            Technically there is one OLED headset that can do full blacks – the Odyssey+ (and the non-plus). I consider it the current best headset. You can situationally quickly turn on/off full blacks with a checkbox in OpenVR advanced Settings.

          • mirak

            I don’t see when you need fullblacks, because only time it happens is during loading screens.
            I can imagine some horror games have total black moments, but that shouldn’t last long.

          • Cless

            I normally wear glasses, when playing on a LCD headset and there are shadows on a lit area, it kind of feels like my glasses are dirty, since the contrast just isn’t there yet.
            Lets hope for a new generation of OLED panels! Or those juicy micro panels they were testing one or two years ago!

          • mirak

            I have Vive Pro and Vive OG, and fore sure we can see the grey when it’s entirely dark, but as soon there is just a few pixels ligthed there is no comparison possible with LCD, and the dark looks pitch black.

            So beside loading screens, it doesn’t happen often.
            Maybe some horror games have absolute black scenes, maybe, then it can be distracting to see the greys, but that’s really far from LCD overall issue.

          • Charles

            In my experience, it’s not just “a few pixels”. If we’re talking about the 100% pure blacks that only the Odyssey can do, there are many situations that greatly benefit from 100% pure blacks – for example: some hallways in Half Life Alyx, caves/dungeons in Skyrim, space simulators such as Titans of Space, and especially the “Luminous Abyss” section of theBlu.

            If we’re just comparing LCD to the limited deep blacks of the Vive or when OpenVR Advanced Settings is used to limit black levels to eliminate situational black smear on the Odyssey: all these scenarios greatly benefit, plus just about everything else. Doesn’t have to be a dark environment – just any kind-of-dim environment looks much better, and bright environments become much more vivid. You’d actually be surprised how much contrast real life has even in the daylight outdoors – in real life, large shadows can look pitch black, whereas in LCD VR a large shadow will always look grey.

    • HTC stated multiple times (even on my blog in November) that this year they’re going to launch a new headset. So it’s coming. It’s just that this time they were announcing the tracker

      • mirak

        mouth tracker will probably be integrated directly

  • FairlySadPanda

    A real sign of confidence in their Cosmos range to release a kit that is only usable on the older Pro hardware.

    • mirak

      plus there is still like 10 time more HTC Vive on the market than HTC Vive Pro or Cosmos.

      • ymo1965

        They’re obviously hoping this will lead to a surge in vive pro sales.

        • Blaexe

          To add to the confusion, HTC discontinued the Vive Pro a year ago, yet you can still buy it on the official website.

          https://www.roadtovr.com/htc-discontinuing-vive-pro-and-vive-focus-in-favor-of-newer-iterations/

          • ymo1965

            Yes, I heard about that too but was 100% sure. If there is another headset looming, I would lay a bet it will support the face tracker too.

          • Charles

            The position trackers work with any headset, as long as you have the lighthouse base stations and are using SteamVR. Not sure about the face tracker.

          • mirak

            Maybe end users shops returned them.

        • mirak

          It can’t be.

          I don’t know what they are attempting exactly.

          That is innovation though, but the price always kills their innovation.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      Where does it state it’s only usable on the older pro hardware?

      • Caven

        Not only does the Vive website only advertise compatibility with the Vive Pro Eye and other Vive Pro series headsets, but the accessories store page on their website only lists the Vive facial tracker under the Pro series and the Pro Eye series sections. It’s conspicuously absent from the Cosmos series, Vive series, and Focus series sections.

        In contrast, the version 3.0 Vive tracker is listed under all headset sections except the Focus series.

      • ymo1965

        HTC confirmed it several times in their twitter feed when people were asking. Saw it myself many times.

  • So…no new headset? Just add on for their old headset? https://media3.giphy.com/media/IZKuUgbb8g0Yo/giphy.gif

  • gothicvillas

    Is this only for HTC headsets?

    • mirak

      only for Vive Pro, Vive Pro Eye

    • ymo1965

      Yes, vive pro and ‘eye’ pro

    • Charles

      Motion trackers work on any headset, as long as you have the base stations and are using SteamVR.

  • I am disapointed.
    At this point, this ugly thing would be WAY better in a full head headset like a motorbike helmet. So we could actually make the weight all over the head. A cooling system throwing air to cool the person inside and the helmet would be cool too (got it? Cool, resfriate, nice, ba dun tss)

  • Mike549

    All this talk about a new standalone headset, all the excitement and what they actually release is… a tracker. That works with obsolete, overpriced tethered headsets. Later this year they’ll tease (and actually release) a new headset, but it’ll be over double what the Quest 2 costs, have worse tracking and god rays, and be squarely aimed at the enterprise market.

    • Bob

      I think the new headset they’re working on will have a limited release in the West. It’ll be squarely aimed at the Asian market.

  • knuckles625

    Hmm, I know that HTC will advertise the lip tracker as Vive Pro Eye only, but I can’t see any other way for it to connect than via its USB-C passthrough, right? Any reason why someone couldn’t rig a different mount and connect it to the Index’s passthrough, or grab a long extension cable with a wired Quest? Maybe it doesn’t matter since lip tracking is a tier down in usefulness from eye tracking in a lot of cases (and nothing else has eye tracking)

    • mirak

      the probleme is the software that detect the mouth

    • Andrew Jakobs

      I don’t see anywhere that it’s only for the Vive Pro Eye, what they do say it that for the ultimate full facial tracking you’ll need the vive pro eye, as it also tracks the eyes.

  • Anonmon

    $130 for a new tracker when the competition is already heating up with the Tundra Tracker that’s slated to be cheaper than the $100 2.0. Are HTC not reading the market, at all?

    Maybe from the standpoint that if you wanted the extended battery life with external batteries with the original ones it would raise the cost to something around $130, but that’s still stupid as the $100 asking price for the 1.0 and 2.0 ones was absurdly overpriced as is was.
    I’m excited for how the Tundra Trackers turn out, as that has the potential to sell gangbusters if they can get the price right. Something HTC clearly is incapable of.

    And with the facial tracker, is this just the Vive Pro Eye? How many people even have one of those overpriced HMD’s, especially compared to the still not insignificant number of OG Vives still being used to this day?
    And what’s teh software support even look like at the moment? Maybe if they could of got with VRChat and made it compatible there it would have made sense, but as is it’s not exactly compelling outside of limited enterprise use.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      But how long it batterylife with the Tundra, and how big are the Tundra trackers, how accurate are they and how available are those Tundra trackers when they are released.

      The facial tracker is for all their currently available headsets, so all Pro’s and Cosmo’s. Maybe even the original Vive. It says you need the Pro Eye for the ultimate FULL facial tracking (including eyes).
      And expect VRChat to certainly support this.

      • Anonmon

        Well, the claims with the Tundra Trackers are twice the battery life, 60% smaller than the 1.0 and 2.0 HTC trackers, and accuracy is gonna be exactly the same because this is Lighthouse we’re talking about. The only potentially limiting factor is availability as Tundra don’t have as much of a track record as HTC do, given HTC make far more than just VR equipment.

      • knuckles625

        I don’t know where you’re getting that information. Straight from the HTC product website (https://www.vive.com/us/accessory/facial-tracker/) it states under the “Compatibility” bullet point: “Pair with VIVE Pro Eye for the ultimate whole-face tracking experience. Compatible with other models in the VIVE Pro series.”

        Where do you see something different? In all dev discussions I can find for the prototype hardware that’s been out for the past year, HTC only states it as compatible with Vive pro – explicitly stating not the index, and not the OG Vive.

        • Andrew Jakobs

          ah, I guess they changed it, as last night when I checked there wasn’t even a reference to compatibility..

  • Lip tracker is really cool, just a shame they couldn’t bring the price of the body tracker down more…

    • Arturs Gerskovics

      yes cool for those 3 people with HTC headsets

    • TechPassion

      All these gadgets weight a ton. A no no!

  • xyzs

    Sometimes, I wonder if their do try to screw up on purpose…?

  • thatguyofficial

    I’ve worked with facial mocap before and my god is the tracking awful.

    Also, I work now on VR hardware and my god is the design awful. You want the camera on the headset itself facing the mouth area, not a huge s-mount USB2 security camera from Alibaba costing 15USD in its own pointless huge enclosure.
    I would expect this from a startup, except even they (DecaGear) seems to be doing it right.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      I agree with you, a small aliexpress camera with IR lighting would suffice, but I also think the whole ‘intelligence’ is in the same enclosure, so it already processes the video onboard and only sends the tracking info to the PC. Otherwise I certainly agree with you that it’s ridiculous why it’s so big.

      • thatguyofficial

        I’m pretty confident that the mouth tracking is done on the PC. If they use an extra USB2 connection for this peripheral than USB2 has more than enough bandwidth for it. On the other hand, 500mA USB2 may not be enough to power such on-board processing.

  • Jim P

    FB’s move they will sale you the same thing but due to FB speech police you want be able to use it.

  • My Thoughts

    HTC you have done it again!!! Total rubish at total rubish prices. LOL put this company to bed it is done.

  • Ok, the new tracker is cool. I would love to read a comparison with the upcoming ones by Tundra. I know many people that use them and this update is very welcome.

    The liptracking for the Vive Pro is… well… wtf

  • Rupert Jung

    Doesn’t it track the eyes?

  • superdonkey

    even if vive got a quest competitor going they wouldnt be able to get the software anywhere near oculus. the best they could do is go after the pimax sim-racer market with some wide fov ro something.

  • implicator

    All this stuff for the several year old Vive pro but still no 2160p Vive HMD? At least the mouth camera is finally coming out. I’d love to see a mod for using the thing with VRChat.

  • mepy

    I just want a new Vive Pro. Something with one of those new 1000-2000 PPI AMOLED screens that have been prototypes for three years now. Surely Samsung, LG, AOU or INT can make them on order.