With three versions of SteamVR trackers under its belt, HTC has been a leading enabler of full-body tracking in VR. Now the company’s latest tracker could make it even easier to bring your body into VR.

HTC’s new standalone Vive tracker (still unnamed) has a straightforward goal: work like the company’s existing trackers, but easier and on more platforms.

The ‘easier’ part comes thanks to inside-out tracking—using on-board cameras to allow the device to track its own position, rather than external beacons like those used by the company’s prior trackers.

Photo by Road to VR

To that end, things seem really promising so far. I got to demo the new Vive tracker at GDC 2023 this week and was impressed with how well everything went.

Photo by Road to VR

With two of the new Vive trackers strapped to my feet, I donned a Vive XR Elite headset and jumped into a soccer game. When I looked down at my feet, I saw a pair of virtual soccer shoes. And when I moved my feet in real-life, the soccer shoes moved at the same time. It took less than two seconds for my mind to say ‘hey those are my feet!’, and that’s a testament to both the accuracy and latency being very solid with the new tracker.

That’s not a big deal for older trackers that use SteamVR Tracking, which has long been considered the gold standard for VR tracking. But to replicate a similar level of performance in a completely self-contained device that’s small and robust enough to be worn on your feet… that’s a big deal for those who crave the added immersion that comes with bringing more of your body into VR.

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Throughout the course of my demo, my feet were always where I expected to see them. I saw no strange spasms or freezing in place, no desync of coordinate planes between the tracker and the headset, and no drifting of the angle of my feet. That allowed me to easily forget that I was wearing anything special on my feet and simply focus on tracking to kick soccer balls into a goal.

While the tracker worked well throughout, the demo had an odd caveat—I had feet but no legs! That makes it kind of weird to try to juggle a soccer ball when you expect to be able to use your shin as a backboard but watch as the ball rolls right over your virtual foot.

Ostensibly this is the very thing that trackers like this should be able to fix; by attaching two more trackers to my knees, I should be able to have a nearly complete representation of my leg movements in VR, making experiences like ‘soccer in VR’ possible when they simply wouldn’t work otherwise.

I’m not sure if the demo app simply wasn’t designed to handle additional tracking points on the knees, or if the trackers are currently limited to just two, but HTC has confirmed the final inside-out Vive tracker will support up to five trackers in addition to the tracked headset and controllers.

Trackers can, of course, be used to track more than just your body, though apps that support these kinds of tracked accessories are rare | Photo by Road to VR

So the inside-out factor is the ‘easier’ part, but what about the other goal of the tracker—to be available on more platforms than just SteamVR Tracking?

Well, the demo I was playing was actually running purely on the standalone Vive XR Elite. To connect the trackers, a small USB-C dongle needs to be connected to the headset to facilitate the proprietary wireless connection between the dongle and the trackers. HTC says the same dongle can plug into a PC and the trackers will work just fine through SteamVR.

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The company also says it’s committed to making the trackers OpenXR compatible, which means (in theory) any headset could support them if they wanted.

– – — – –

I only got to use it in one configuration (on my feet) and in one environment (a large office space). So there’s still the question of how robust they will be. For now though, I’m suitably impressed.

If these trackers really work as well as they seem from their first impression, it could open the door to a new wave of people experiencing the added immersion of full-body tracking in VR… but there’s still the lingering question of price, which historically never seems to be quite right consumer VR market when it comes to HTC. Until then, our fingers shall remain crossed.

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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."
  • Andrew Jakobs

    proprietary wireless connection
    Ah, that’s already the big downside. I’d rather have a standard being used like the latest bluetooth or something like that. it would mean less dongles connected to anything.

    • ViRGiN

      did you expect common sense from htc products?

    • mellott124

      It likely due to them trying to keep latency minimized and having more control over the link. Don’t think they’re adding dongles because they want to.

  • ViRGiN

    vrchatians and neosians got their dicks hard; but where is the body tracking SDK?
    it doesn’t exist, like it never did?

    this is a dog tracker, cause you can put it on your dog and have it track your position. it doesn’t track human limbs or anything like that. and no human beings ever cared about “vive trackers”. not even vive.

    another OBSOLETE article from roadtovr clearly in an era of dry news; yet AGAIN refusing to cover contractors vr for over a year – all while waiting for them to approach this site to pay for news again.
    but unlike vail vr that rented adspace here, contractors is a behemoth of a success.

    all VR news sites are nothing more than shady hype builders.

    • Sibir Lupus

      How stuck in the past are you? VR hardware keeps moving forward whether YOU like it or not ;). The Quest Pro controllers are proof that optical inside out tracked devices outside of VR headsets works. So its only a matter of time before trackers including Vive’s upcoming self tracked trackers will be a viable option for full body tracking.

      • ViRGiN

        It’s not about the tech lol – it’s who does it, how they support it and at what cost. Insider out obviously makes sense, but this isn’t even a consumer product. Nothing is said about working on standalone either. Just another failed htc attempt with zero new use cases, just tech demos, just like valve knuckles which are essentially unsupported to this day by developers.

        Look at quest hand tracking – it’s actually being implemented by many, many developers. More than all pcvr years combined regarding lighthouse technology

        • Ondrej

          Vive tracker was so incredibly successful, that a new competitor (a smaller company) using the same Lighthouse technology showed up and is constantly being sold out.

          In fact it’s such a big success in full body tracking among VR enthusiasts (including many prominent content creators) Zuckerberg himself had to address not supporting the same feature at recent Connect.

          The number of total hours all FBT users spent in VRChat is probably 1000 times higher than all hours spent with Quest’s hand tracking. People don’t use it for 30 minutes to play around with some little games. They spend entire days in it. Some have 10k+ hours on Steam and more…

          Give me an example of a SINGLE online celebrity whose ENTIRE career relies on Quests hand tracking. You can’t. But that’s a real thing about FBT trackers. There are people making a living from it, which shows how relevant and important part of the industry it is.

          • ViRGiN

            are you a weeb or a furry?
            what’s “incredibly successfull”? “new competitor”? come on shill. tundra matters to NOBODY, and is SOLD OUT constantly cause they have barely produced anything ever. it’s not even a niche market scaled; they simply do not have the capacity nor the money to actually produce it. it’s also subpar to original vive tracker in things like coverage.

            AND ITS NOT A FUCKING BODY TRACKER! IT DOES NOT TRACK BODY! NO BODY TRACKING SDK EXIST! STOP SHILLING!

            “FBT” vrchatian-cringe-users are also sleeping while waering vr headset, so i’m not sure what your point is.
            vrchat is for degenerates. vrchat is social platform for anti social human shaped beings.

            ONLINE CELEBRITY WHOS ENTIRE CAREER RELIES ON “FBT” tracking? who the hell are you? nobody like this exists lol. literally nobody, outside your own circle.
            who the fuck pays for this “content”? onlyfans exists as well. you don’t need electronica to make a living using nothing but your own body.

            you are just another insane basement dweller who acts like vrchat is the second coming of christ and what vr/metaverse was meant to be.

            get fucking real.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            I think the one who needs to get real is you. You clearly aren’t into the VRChat community (nor am I), but FBT is a very VERY popular there. Yeah, you might just dismiss VRChat, but it’s not a small community.
            And why are you so opposed to these trackers? Personally I still think for FBT something like the Microsoft Kinect is still a good solution.
            But then again, FBT isn’t necessary for many games.
            I personally don’t really care about FBT, but others do, and it seems you also don’t care, but seem to be just trolling about it.

          • ViRGiN

            It’s not trolling, it’s being real about state ot FBT and actual adoption.
            What about HTC mouth/facial tracker huh? Another astounding success with widespread adoption? what happened to the wrist tracker?

            vrchat is past it’s prime and there haven’t been anything new in a long while. the first version of the tracker came out in 2017, 6 years ago. what is actually supporting it, and what people are actually using it for?
            vrchat, neos and blade and sorcery are the only titles that comes to my mind. there is probably a handful of other titles that noone has ever heard of, only known by vrchat addicts just to pull into a conversation like this proving there is actual support and real use case.
            fbt doesn’t really exist yet for vr, and trackers are just piss poor attempts at providing a solution to a problem that exists in an non-existent market.
            not even valve/steamvr itself mentions “fbt” anywhere – cause it doesn’t exist, and what’s out there is so forgetable. there were other gyro based “solutions”, but those are even worse and once again wannabe attempts at capturing a market that doesn’t exist – every single advertise i’ve seen is in one way or another portrayed as young chaddy male wearing a bunch of straps transferring into a ‘cute anime girl’ lol. who the f does that.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Again, you are clearly not the market and are closeminded. In Japan for instance these trackers are pretty popular (also those from Sony). Again, you seem to be living in your own little bubble and think nobody likes it because you don’t like it.
            There will always be people who want things like those trackers, not you and me clearly.
            But certainly with your views, VR will never get any tracktion. Just like with joysticks for gaming, not many people use them anymore, and only a small group of people use them for flightsims, personally I actually use a joystick for FPS games (in my left hand for walking and all functiones related to buttons like jump/duck/reload/action/change weapon/whatever, and my mouse in my left hand, for me there is no better way to play FPS games, AWSD keyboard? who the hell uses such a ergo-nightmare? oh crap, that’s a very large group, and I’m probably one of the only people to use the joystick because nobody actually ever thought of using it like that, and I only stumbles upon it by accident when I had my joystick on my desk and was playing UT99 and accidentally touched the joystick and saw my character moving, I’ve never looked back at the crap keyboard for playing fps after that. so you see, a small group found a use for something that already isn’t used by a big group at all, and that’s the same with those trackers, some people use it in a way you haven’t thought of).

          • ViRGiN

            and you know it’s popular in japan cause… ? lol

          • Cless

            I vouch for him. I’ve been living for a while here. There is popular enough to spark multiple companies trying to get it right. Most people that are into VR here, want or have FBT, at least the ones I know.

          • ViRGiN

            That’s more of an anecdote than market research. Everyone i know with gaming pc has at least rtx 4 series card, but i wouldn’t go as far as to claim is super popular “here” (despite pretty guaranteed for that number to be much higher than all tracker users worldwide combined).

          • Cless

            I get that, but its just not my personal circles, you can see it in the amount of regular interest that it gets from regular people, the amount of companies trying to crack it and things like that.
            Doesn’t make it any better or anything, it just means more money is being poured on solving the tech over here.

          • ViRGiN

            To be clear, I do want FBT, but nothing really exist right now. It’s piss poor attempt for targetting “metaversians” wearing furry and weeby avatars, just to get something extra. FBT doesn’t exist, just like hand tracking did not exist prior to Quest supporting it, despite there being USB adapters enabling hand tracking, probably even more accurate than what we have today through visual tracking. I think there was ultraleap? already in DK1/DK2 times. Yet NOTHING was being done. It was a complete gimmick. Even pimax sold a dedicated adapter, and once again, NOTHING was being done with it.

            FBT will be a real thing once it’s an integral part of your average good VR headset. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but right now, it simply doesn’t exists and has NOTHING to do with “full body tracking”. “there is a market for that” comes from people who see a market in EVERY single thing, because THEY THEMSELVES want it so bad to be real. FBT is just like “high end PCVR” – it simply doesn’t exist. You could have 16K per eye headset, and yet you would be playing gorilla tag, even in 240hz. Nothing high-end here.

          • Cless

            I mean, following that logic, FBT won’t exist until a headset includes it by default. I have to disagree with that, if its what you mean by that.

            Just it not being popular and only being able to be used in literally a couple of applications doesn’t mean its non-existent, it just means its a niche, wouldn’t it?

          • ViRGiN

            It’s not FBT to begin with. No FBT SDK exist. How am I supposed to integrate HTC FBT to my VR app?

          • ViRGiN

            also tell me how ridiciously successfull lighthouse as a whole is, lol! such an “open” system that literally no companies ever used it, outside htc and pimax basically. and pimax did so cause they were and still are incapable to this day to make their own tracking solutions. even htc stepped away from it, as it’s a nonsense dead end. where are all the third party lighthouse controllers? where are lighthouse accessories to turn a bat into vr bat? where is the software to use any of this?

            FBT doesn’t exist yet. cope.

        • Cless

          To be fair… who is going to make software or an SDK if there is no hardware out there either? The more of this stuff is out there the better tbh. And I don’t really care about FBT personally, but sure a lot of people want it!

          • ViRGiN

            If htc is calling it with body tracking capability, that’s on htc to deliver sdk to ease integration.

    • Ben Lang

      Our editorial team is completely separate from our ad team. Nothing that happens on one impacts the other.

      • CrusaderCaracal

        can you ban him honestly

    • Cless

      Man, are you okay? Reading your comments today seems you are not in a good place atm. Even your way of writing is off from what is usually :S

      • ViRGiN

        You’re the only one who thinks I’m not the usual virgin, so that’s your impression.

        Nothing has changed, except me getting second oled monitor and completly abandoning the idea of headset workspace lol.

        • Cless

          Nonono, you can’t do that. You should totally throw away that monitor, and tell me exactly where (for unrelated reasons) and keep trying to do it in VR! :P

          • ViRGiN

            LG 48GQ900 is for 999 on official website, huge price drop for a monitor released about half a year ago. Then with extra discount for new accounts its 930 euros. Really can’t go wrong here. 120hz 4k 48″ OLED. So much real estate with no viewing angles compromises. A headset replacement would need like 6k per eye and be ultra hyper lightweight with open facial interface like quest pro. I really don’t understand how others can shill for stuff like… i forgot the name but there is like one indie productivity app. It was horrible to use.

  • Ondrej

    The big question isn’t just price, but also how these trackers will synchronize with 3rd party headsets.

    I doubt that OpenXR has “SLAM map sharing” mechanics…

    I expect XR specializing journalists to ask this kind of questions.

    • ViRGiN

      it’s not a question. if they actually cared about any of this – this would be sorted prior to make an announcmenet for a product half a year away lol.

      you need to get your head out of your vrchat cringe stuff. nobody cares. nobody caters to vrchat users. just like nobody cares about pcvr abusers. dead platforms, which already reached its full potential long ago.

      imagine spending time in vrchat, a super cringe platform with even more cringe beings, with even dogshitter worlds, even for pcvr exclusive stuff.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean others don’t. Get your head out of your ass, the world doesn’t revolve around you, so many people, so many different tastes and wants.
        Go play with your quest or something and stop being such a troll on anything around here. Nobody forces you to buy PCVR or whatever headset. And if you don’t like it and know so much better as the rest of the companies, go and create your own headset/platform, seeing how much better you know everything it should become a smash hit……

        • ViRGiN

          and you may continue acting like there is a market for every little thing related to vr.

          • Andrew Jakobs

            Well actually there is a market for every little thing related to vr, hell there is a market for every little thing. The market may be small, but there are always people who want it (otherwise it wouldn’t even be thought of).

          • ViRGiN

            yeah, there is market for every little thing for vr, that’s why wireless adapters did catch on and is a popular way to access pcvr across different pcvr headsets. it’s why companies like htc released their own solution, and today you have competition and plenty of choice in that regard. lol!

            where are the growth numbers for tracker users?

      • CrusaderCaracal

        pcvr isnt dead lol

        • ViRGiN

          Another bum arguing that as long as one person is using pcvr, it’s not dead?

          • CrusaderCaracal

            pcvr isnt dead lol, shush

          • ViRGiN

            it’s definietly not alive, shush

          • CrusaderCaracal

            last i checked it is very alive, not everyone plays on a quest dude

          • ViRGiN

            Cope, half the pcvr are quest users.
            And last i checked, nothing changed, dead as fuck. Platform for 4k gorilla tag.

          • CrusaderCaracal

            Still pcvr lol, even if you’re using a quest you’re using steam to play pcvr games. Platform isn’t dead, steam has many games the quest doesnt. you call me a steam bootlicker yet you’re doing backflips on Zuckerberg’s lizard meat

          • ViRGiN

            I merely mentioned Quest.
            There are very few games being played on steam, and they are exclusively old titles. And most of them are on Quest.

  • Guest

    Wonder why they have a limit of only 5 trackers. At least 9 are needed for most mammals. HTC must agree with the troll below that their is no future in furries!

    • Sibir Lupus

      You’d have 8 point tracking with a set of controllers and the VR headset, so that’s plenty for most people. The 5 tracker limit may be due to the USB-C dongle that will be needed for them. And trust me, that troll below is wrong about FBT demand. As VR becomes more mainstream, the demand for FBT will only continue to grow along with it.