Valve have revealed that their room-scale tracking technology SteamVR has now been licensed to over 300 companies, many of which plan to release products integrating the tech in 2017.

Valve’s pseudo-annual developer focused event ‘Steam Dev Days’ will kick off tomorrow and the gaming giant has already teased some of what attendees at the Seattle based show will see. Running for two days at the Washington State Convention Centre, the event is developers-only for the most part with no press access.

According to a press release from Valve, the company are gearing up to show off “new VR peripherals” which will be made available for “demonstration and design collaboration with attendees.” Precisely what these peripherals are we don’t know, but Valve states that its SteamVR Tracking tech, the laser-based system which provides room-scale tracking capabilities to the HTC Vive, now has over 300 companies signed up as licensees for technology.

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It seems Valve’s vision for SteamVR tracking uses is broad to say the least, with the company claiming that those 300 licensees span multiple, somewhat disparate industries ranging from “entertainment VR to automotive to televisions and toys.” Further, Valve says we can look forward to seeing many of these products appear in 2017.

Valve had been promising to open up its tracking technology to third parties for some time and finally announced a program in August offering both a royalty-free licensing model and developer kit to licensees looking to add integration. While the company doesn’t directly charge any fees to use the technology, they do insist that licensees attend a training course priced at $3,000 to learn the ins and outs of the technology.

Shortly after the announcement that the SteamVR Tracking technology would finally begin to open up to third-parties, semiconductor firm Triad Semiconductor announced that it was collaborating with Valve to create the ‘light to digital’ chips that form an important foundation of the sensors and make the impressively accurate tracking and which Valve recommends for use in products integrating SteamVR Tracking.

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Second-gen Lighthouse Chip Could Improve Tracking, Reduce Cost of HTC Vive 2

For Oculus’ part, the company has said previously that they planned to open up their own ‘Constellation’ tracking technology to third parties but hasn’t announced any progress on that effort for more than a year.

Valve meanwhile has said that they want to make SteamVR Tracking ubiquitous, ‘like wifi’, and seems in the best position so far to make that happen.

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  • yag

    Hmmm… Investing in Lighthouse or Constellation now while we’ll have inside-out tracking systems soon…

    • Get Schwifty!

      The basic problem with Lighthouse as opposed to the camera-based tech of Constellation is it ultimately cant “see” you the way the camera can and project your body in the space, something that Oculus is intent on and why they focused on it even thought it meant a bit higher tracking inaccuracy under certain conditions. The cheap light chip thing is nice, I’m glad to hear companies are investing as I want VR to really succeed (Vive and Rift will both be parties), but there is more going on than just cheap access in the long run. I think they are using Lighthouse in the long run for less than VR possibly than for a system of AR applications with the HTC phone family. Nothing wrong with that if that is the case, but it’s a very different play than Oculus seems to be pushing for. The funny thing is there’s absolutely nothing stopping Oculus from going the Lighthouse route if they choose and vice versa. I still expect both companies to move over time in the direction of Sony-style PSVR HMD designs, they just make so much sense and eventually settle on a combination of Lighthouse-style and camera style tracking to solve various issues.

      • RipVoid

        I agree. Sony seems to have nailed the headset design. Its heavier than its rivals and more comfortable. Look for 2nd gen systems to adopt it,

        And I agree, it won’t be a surprise if Occulus adopts Lighthouse for their high end 2nd gen system. But lets wait a month and see exactly what Constellation can do.

    • Fred Kolman

      We saw a prototype at OC3 so that could be a Year or two. And than again; wouldn’t a handfull of cheap sensors on a catsuit make a base for a great skeleton tracking system? Just a thought.

    • RipVoid

      If you’re interested in high end VR the tracking is going to be external. I think Lighthouse is going to be around for a while. Whatever, HMD you buy will be obsolete long before Lighthouse.

  • David Herrington

    I’m just trying to think of 300 different peripherals that could be used…

    New wand controllers (and colors), guns, swords, steering wheels, flight sticks, gloves, tennis rackets, drink koozies… basically anything you have in real life but want to be able to “see” in VR.

    What about a set of gloves and a tracked keyboard? That way you can use a traditional keyboard?
    I hate to say it but I bet there will be a lot of adult “toys” as well.

    • Kyuutketsuki

      Yup I imagine we will see motion tracked adult toy “parts” soon. There is that video floating around of one in Japan already so thats a given.

      I look forward to simple stuff so that my office can be tracked. Tracked mouse and keyboard, maybe something I can stick to the edge of objects like my desk to virtualize those.

      Down the road when we have wireless headsets I foresee the possibility of tracking all the objects in a room and creating virtualized interiors. With Oculus demoing wireless headsets and this announcement about partnerships we are real close to a holodeck :)

  • DiGiCT Ltd

    This is great news.
    Looking forward whats coming from those companies.

  • Andre Brown

    Will we see any Oculus Touch clones or copies? I would imagine Facebook patent lawyers are watching closely.

    • DougP

      Re: “Will we see any Oculus Touch clones or copies? ”
      Ummm….You do realize Facebook’s system doesn’t even USE Lighthouse tracking, right?
      I mean….that’s what this article is mostly about.

      • Andre Brown

        DougP picture this: an Oculus Touch type controller with lighthouse sensors embedded instead of Oculus constellation. I’m imagining switching tracking sensors, not trying to force a completely different tracking solution. Does that help you comprehend my post a little easier.

        • DougP

          Still not getting it. WHY would Valve do that?
          Different button locations just to confuse their existing users.

          The controllers already do about the exact same thing.
          Although they ea focused on different aspects, perhaps as example:
          1) Valve focused more on “motion control input” – less buttons & all about ‘having your hands/arms in game’. The likes of *motion gestures* instead of memorizing buttongs.
          2) Facebook went with more of a – “existing console gamers” xbox layout. Few more buttons? More pressing buttons instead of re-thinking for motion input (i.e. motion gestures to reload/grab something). Perhaps more to just take existing xbox controller games & convert them?

          Kind’a like they were marketing to different crowds – Valve just anyone *new* can get in & not be worried about memorizing buttons & instead use gestures….Facebook more for experienced console gamers with the xbox layout/input.

          Lawyers –
          Regardless, still have no idea what you were talking about with mentioning Facebook lawyers.
          I mean….are you worried Sony’s lawyers are going after facebook for using dual analog sticks & face buttons?
          Just seems like weird non sequitur to an article about Lighthouse peripherals.
          Or did you think Facebook was going to abandon the inferior camera capture tech, use Lighthouse (it’s open to other manufacturers) & then sue Valve?
          Any which way…. confused by what you’re trying to say.

          BTW – on a related note. Check out that incredible “hands free” prototype controller Valve just demo’d at the dev conference in Seattle. Now that’s “next gen” motion control input. Here’s hoping they ship something along those lines soon. My guess is it’s more likely a few months after the Touch is shipped (Q1 2016), but still….might be worth waiting for some people considering the Touch now to get that much of an upgrade.

    • mm

      Was just thinking the same thing

  • Glad to see Lighthouse tech get some more weight behind it and can’t wait to see what 3rd parties have in store for us, but inside out tracking could be the future.