Today Sixense, creator of the technology found in the Razer Hydra, announced a new wireless tracking development kit that will essentially come to form the Hydra 2. The company, which formerly sold its technology through Razer, will be marketing the device under its own name and working “directly with developers to create software for the upcoming consumer version…”
Like the Razer Hydra before it, the new Sixense motion tracking unit provides full 6 degrees-of-freedom tracking which means that the base unit can determine the absolute position of the controllers as well as their orientation. The makes the unit perfect for tracking players’ hands in a virtual reality world, allowing them to reach out and interact naturally with the environment.
In addition to the controllers being wireless (perhaps the most requested feature for those who have used the Razer Hydra) the new unit supports tracking of three devices: two controllers and a third device (with the ‘Stem’ label) which appears to be an attachable positional tracker which could clip to your shirt or HMD. Oculus Rift developers have already been using the Razer Hydra for positional headtracking, so the addition of a dedicated device for that purpose would be a huge plus.
It’s interesting to note the indentations in the base of the development kit between the controllers and the Stem unit — looks to me like a place to put other two more controllers or perhaps two more of the Stem trackers…. Two more controllers could mean multiplayer VR with one Hydra unit. Two of the Stem trackers could mean foot tracking for animating avatars, or for a passive omnidirectional treadmill like the Virtuix Omni.
The new unit adds one additional button on each controller (6 total), but it isn’t clear if the bumper buttons, found above the triggers on the original Razer Hydra, have been removed. The unit will be compatible with games and other apps that were made for the Razer Hydra.
Sixense says that they’ll put the dev kit out there and work with developer feedback to create the forthcoming consumer version of this wireless tracking unit. The company also says that they’re willing to work with devs “to develop their own controllers and motion tracking devices,” which I’m reading as ‘we’ll make your company a motion tracking peripheral with our technology.’
So far Sixense hasn’t announced the price or release date for the wireless Hydra dev kit, but claims that that info will come “soon” along with additional details about the unit.
Sixense Goes Indie
Equally as interesting as the new wireless tracking dev kit is that Sixense appears to be going independent. In the past, Sixense had sold their technology to Razer who put it into the Hydra package. Sixense has been careful not to call this the ‘Wireless Hydra’ or ‘Hydra 2’ and is specifically noting that that the unit will be launching under the Sixense name.
In fact, the original Hydra prototype was wireless to begin with. When Razer licensed the tech, they chose to go with a wired version (perhaps because of price concerns). It would appear that the consumer version of this new unit will also be launching as a Sixense product.