Wacom, a leader in stylus pens and tablets for creative professionals, unveiled a new device late last month which was built specifically for creators looking to leverage the power of VR.

Called Wacom VR Pen, the device is a pressure sensitive stylus controller. This, the company says in its developer-focused webpage, allows users to not only draw in VR, but also with the company’s fleet of professional pen tablets for traditional 2D drawing.

Image courtesy Wacom

One of the major obstacles in creating a VR stylus is the lack of force feedback, which makes drawing in open spaces difficult and inherently less precise.

Wacom says however its pressure-sensitive button near the pen’s tip lets users naturally alter stroke thickness depending on the amount of force used when gripping the pen, which it says recreates a “similar experience to drawing with a pen on paper.”

Image courtesy Wacom

Wacom VR Pen also features a few other buttons, including a trigger-style grip, a rotator knob for digital tool selection, and a selector toggle on the knob itself.

There’s still plenty left to learn about Wacom VR Pen, including its standalone tracking solution; it doesn’t rely on standard VR tracking systems such as Valve’s SteamVR base stations or Oculus Insight, the onboard optical tracking solution on Oculus Rift S and Quest/Quest 2. Wacom hasn’t detailed exactly how its tracking system works yet, so we’re hoping to learn more soon.

Image courtesy Wacom

Going with an independent tracking solution however is undoubtedly beneficial to reaching a greater number of headset users. To that effect, Wacom President and CEO Nobu Ide says in a video (linked below) that VR Pen is designed to work with “major head-mounted displays in the market.”

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A strong endorsement of the company’s move towards native VR creation, Ide calls VR Pen “unlike any other pen which Wacom created before, and it will be our transition point into the next creative future.”

Wacom isn’t the first to offer a VR-specific stylus. Logitech, one of the biggest entrants and direct competitor to Wacom, has offered their $750 Logitech VR Ink stylus since early 2020, integrating SteamVR tracking into a fairly standard stylus body.

At the moment, it appears Wacom is still shopping around for partners. Interested professional users are asked to contact Wacom directly via email at wacomvrpen@wacom.com.

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  • implicator

    What a shame that it can’t use SteamVR tracking like logitech’s 3D pen does. A second set of base stations seems like a hassle.

    • agreed

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    • Aeroflux

      I bet they tried to utilize the Lighthouse stations at first. Hopefully they decided to go with the proprietary tracking for increased fidelity.

      • Zantetsu

        I thought SteamVR tracking was known to be higher fidelity than any other consumer tracking solutions. I also thought that it was sub-millimeter precision when set up properly. Not sure how a custom tracking solution could be better than that, or if better, better “enough” to justify breaking from a well-supported and widely available ecosystem.

        • Ad

          Maybe they’re betting on Quest?

      • Anonmon

        The likely reason they went with a proprietary solution instead of just using the Lighthouse system was they wanted anyone with any headset to be able to use it, not just people who either happened to have a Lighthouse tracking volume set up, or people willing to get Lighthouses just for the pen.
        Personally I think it’s a rather daft decision to not at least have a mount on the top of the pen so someone could screw a Vive tracker on the top if anyone so chose to (That’s closer to the original intent of the Vive trackers than the buying 3x of them for full body they seem to be exclusively used for now.), as having multiple devices using different tracking solutions is a pain to align and play nicely together, something anyone using a inside-out headset and Knuckles controllers and/or Vive trackers for FBT can attest to. Keeping all objects in the same tracking solution makes the user experience FAR smoother, and more accurate to boot because there’s no disparity with tracking quality.
        Someone will probably strap a Vive tracker to one of these by way of homebrew eventually anyway.

        • Gabriele Pratticò

          I do agree, at the same time i think they could have just used steamVR tracking and provide the two lightouse as a bundle ;) . Now they got the multiple reference system alignment problem with any headset this will be used. Moreover in professional environments steamVR (Vive Pro) is the mainstream

      • Ad

        I think it’s because they don’t want to be steamVR centric.

        • xyzs

          It not the extra tracking camera the issues, it’s that they could have add steam VR trackers in addition for people who already own those. The best would be an oculus insight compliant version with a IR led system and no cameras for Oculus customers.

          • Ad

            “The best would be an oculus insight compliant version with a IR led system and no cameras for Oculus customers.”

            That would make them stuck on the oculus SDK with explicitly non enterprise hardware.

  • Foreign Devil

    Great! I’ve been waiting for something like this… It will greatly help in VR sculpting too if you can control the pressure and have a fine tip.

  • knuckles625

    There’s been far too many companies that tout their own tracking systems (ultrasonic, magnetic…) which ultimately either fail to deliver good performance, or just never get adopted due to added complexity/poor integration. I can’t imagine wacom is going to beat steamvr accuracy/reliability on their first try. Bummer that they went the way of further segmentation.

  • Ad

    If they have their own tracking system, will it work outside of VR? I was disappointed that the logitech pen wasn’t cheaper and marketed towards more people. Would have been cool if it was supported in a few games even.

  • Very interesting solution, I’m very curious about the price and tracking accuracy