Vive Tracker Brings Easier VR Hacking

CES 2017 is over and there were VR gadgets and announcements aplenty, but here’s an item that’s worth an extra mention because it reflects a positive direction we can’t wait to see more of. HTC announced the Vive Tracker, to be released within the next few months.

The Tracker looks a bit like a cross between a hockey puck and a crown. It is a self-contained, VR trackable device with a hardware port and built-in power supply. It can be used on its own or attached to any physical object to make that object trackable and interactive in VR. No need to roll your own hardware to interface with the Vive’s Lighthouse tracking system.

Valve have been remarkably open about the technical aspects of their hardware and tracking system, and have stated they want to help people develop their own projects using the system. We’ve seen very frank and open communication on the finer points of what it took to make the Lighthouse system work. Efforts at reverse-engineering the protocol used by the controller even got friendly advice. For all the companies making headway into VR, Valve continues to be an interesting one from a hacking perspective.

[Image source for bottom of Tracker: RoadToVR]


10 thoughts on “Vive Tracker Brings Easier VR Hacking

    1. Charging station? This can replace a whole vicon motion capture system that college labs like ETH Zurich have been using with quadcopters. Plug & play fast accurate tracking opens up a whole lot more than just charging stations.

      1. it is probably the next logical step to get working first.. But yeah, from professionals to colleges to hobbyists, this is certainly a game changer for ~ $1050 total (vive + tracker) ! Valve is just fantastic !

    1. That screw mount looks like the same ones used for camera equipment; I’m no camera guy but I’ve seen connectors and screw mounts on the same side for things like flashes, etc.

      If it works anything the same, you wouldn’t screw the Tracker onto an object like you would a bottle cap. You seat the Tracker onto a connector (if one is needed) then secure it from below with a bolt that screws into the screw mount.

    1. Not exactly, the Rift’s system requires blinking the LED’s in a specific pattern (so the camera/software can ‘know’ which LED is which on the headset) as well as the software needing to know ‘Tracking Puck A’ from ‘Tracking Puck B’ (which could be as simple as different LED pulse rates or as complicated as requiring communication with the puck itself.)

    2. I’m not sure how the Rift peripherals work at a low level, but the other thing the Tracker does is let a user use that connector on the bottom for hardware events like button pushes and trigger pulls, etc. So the spatial tracking part is only part of what it does.

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