Virtual Builds, a company spinning out of ASIC engineering firm Noisefigure Research, is a new entrant now selling SteamVR Tracking development hardware. With a full DIY kit starting at $200, Virtual Builds aims to make SteamVR Tracking more accessible for VR hardware companies and individual developers makers alike.
With goal of making SteamVR Tracking a royalty-free and openly accessible tracking system for VR and more, Valve allows other companies to manufacture compatible hardware and provide engineering support to customers that need it. Triad Semiconductor was among the first to offer a SteamVR Tracking HDK for sale, and now Virtual Builds is offering their own development kit
Starting at $200, the Virtual Builds ‘Pebble Kit’ is said to include everything one needs to construct a basic object compatible with SteamVR Tracking. The kit can be used as a starting point for hardware developers to prototype and design VR products that integrate the tracking technology, or for hacker/makers who want to experiment with the tracking technology for other uses. The video below shows the process of putting together the Pebble Kit’s various sensors, ribbons, and boards into a fully functional tracked object supporting SteamVR Tracking 1.0 and 2.0.
Virtual Builds’ CEO, Jerry L., told me that the company also offers its engineering expertise to clients looking to design and productize devices integrating SteamVR Tracking, which could be anything from a VR headset or VR controller, to very different products like tracked keyboards, peripherals, or robotics. The company claims to offer guidance at all levels of development, all the way from sensor placement and debugging to large scale production needs.
“Our hardware is not just prototyping or development only,” Jerry L. told me. “You can order from us for your entire development and production goals. Our team of engineers
will set up the necessary commercial manufacturing chain depending our your desired quantities and product.”
The presence of Virtual Builds as another developer and vendor of SteamVR Tracking hardware is a good sign for the adoption of the tracking technology. Not only does it mean that companies sourcing the tracking hardware have more options to choose from, but it’s also likely that Virtual Builds will compete with others like Triad Semiconductor, leading both companies to improve their offerings and drive costs down.
Update (4/26/18): A prior version of this article stated that SteamVR Tracking was “license-free,” but was intended to say “royalty-free.” This has been corrected.