This is the week of CES, so, after Christmas vacations were there has not been even a single news about VR, we’re being flooded by super-interesting news.

We were all waiting for Vive announcements and HTC is not disappointing us at all. There will be no Vive 2, but 2 big things have been announced today: the Deluxe Audio Strap and the Vive Tracker.

Deluxe Audio Strap is a beautiful name because saying “that things that transforms your Vive in a copy of the Rift” was a bit too long. It’s a gadget that adds integrated audio to your Vive headset and has a design that resembles too much the Oculus Rift one. This way Vive is planning to fill one of the gaps that it suffers against Oculus: Rift integrated audio set is very comfortable and practical and we all love it.

The second announcement has been the release of Vive Tracker. The Vive Tracker is a disc containing sensors that are tracked by the Lighthouse system. That is, you have a device whose position and rotation in space can be detected by Vive system and retrieved via software through SteamVR API. Since this device seems a hockey puck, it has already been re-names as “the puck” 🙂 . The Vive Puck is powered by batteries and Vive guys say that battery can last even six hours. Its dimensions are like the ones of a kid’s hand palm.

HTC Vive Tracker
The Vive Tracker, in all its magnificency (Image by HTC)

What the heck is it useful to? Well, from a consumer standpoint it is almost useless. Consumer simply want to play games with headsets and controllers. And I think most games will not support Pucks.

From a hacker/maker standpoint they’re awesome. You can attach a Puck to an object, then have the position and orientation of that object in space. Let’s make an example: you attach your Vive Tracker to a baseball bat. Since you know the form factor of the bat and  you know exactly where you attached the puck to it and you know the rotation and position of the puck, you could reconstruct in your game exactly the bat pose. So you can track any rigid object and integrate it in your SteamVR application. This is awesome! It opens the world to a lot of new VR interaction possibilities and applications!

Considering that they will release all mechanical and electrical specs… I think that makers will love them really a lot, I’m sure.

Even business applications are huge: for training, for example, Pucks are great. You can attach one of them to a real fire extinguisher and then use it to train people in fire emergency situations. Or to tools and let people try to fix ultra-precious machinery in VR before doing it in real life.

Of course you have to do your job well in the application… otherwise this is what happens…

As a full body VR developer, I also think at making full body suits using Vive Trackers… something like PrioVR suits: you just put some trackers on feet and knees, do some maths and you have something that resembles full body VR tracking (mmmh… we could implement this in our ImmotionRoom suite!).

We still don’t know how much it will cost, but you can remain updated on HTC dedicated shop page! (My guess is 49$, we’ll see)

As you can see, as I predicted (I am a magician!) Vive is not announcing a Vive 2, but it’s releasing a lot of upgrades and accessories for its Vive 1 that will make it supercool and interesting! Someone calls this Vive 1.5.

Oculus has not a stand at CES this year so can’t reply to this Vive announcements, but I think they will make their move soon…

(Header image by HTC)