Sixense STEM, which is essentially the Razer Hydra 2, is officially headed to Kickstarter on September 12th. Sixense, who makes the magnetic tracking technology in the Razer Hydra, says that the STEM will have better range and better tracking performance compared to the Hydra.
By all accounts, the Sixense STEM looks like a huge improvement over the Razer Hydra. Not only are they taking things wireless (probably the most requested change to the Hydra), but the STEM will conveniently track up to five points, making full avatar embodiment a breeze, with two controllers in the hands and three additional STEM units attached to the head and feet. Sixense also says that STEM will provide “better tracking performance at all ranges,” over the Razer Hydra.
Sixense is also making clear their commitment to allow STEM to be used for third-party peripherals, potentially opening the door for a market of STEM equipped products that could function with a single STEM base.
“In order to facilitate a robust developer community, the STEM System is designed as an open platform for creators of both software and hardware products. Developers will be free to create content with virtually no restrictions, and to embed STEMs for tracking of their own peripheral or wearable devices, such as swords or head-mounted displays,” reads their release announcing the STEM Kickstarter date.
A new render, seen above, confirms that the bumper buttons above the triggers have fortunately not been removed. Two of the six buttons on the face of the controller have also been changed and offset a bit. We can also now see that the controller has a door for the actual STEM tracking unit to be removed. This is a huge plus as it means that the STEM tracker could be put into another peripheral if the user chooses; users might even be able to upgrade their controllers without having to purchase additional STEM units.
Four Point Tracking with a Sixense STEM Prototype:
Sixense’s Danny Woodall recently demonstrated four point tracking with a STEM prototype, using two controllers in his hands and attacking to STEM trackers to his feet.
Sixense has also demonstrated positional head tracking of the Oculus Rift developer kit with the STEM prototype.
Back at GDC 2013 when I tried the Razer Hydra and the Oculus Rift for the first time together in the Sixense Tuscany demo, I called it “the move fun I’ve had in VR yet.” Getting your virtual hands inside the game adds massively to immersion. I expect that full avatar embodiment, made possible with STEM, will significantly add to the level of immersion in virtual reality.
Will you be backing the STEM Kickstarter on the 12th?