HTC announced a new wave of accessories for Vive owners later this year, but the one that stands above the crowd is the new Vive Tracker. HTC has created a small Vive controller with a data port on the bottom that third-party accessory makers can add to just about anything, allowing you to then add that physical object to the virtual world you’re playing in.
To show how this Tracker will be used when available, HTC had several partners to showcase their efforts. Here’s what we found out!
virtual physical things
The big thing that can get a lot of people excited is the ability to hold an object that looks exactly like the VR version. This means that pistols and rifles with a tracker attached become reality in virtual reality. Keeping weapons feels more real, which means that your actions in the game become more real. The impact of a rifle when the trigger is pulled, or the ability to switch from a pistol to a sword for games like Raw Data, will make a huge difference in actual gameplay.
It extends much further than weapons. TrinityVR’s DiamondFX puts a real baseball bat in your hand and forces you to play against the virtual entertainment of the greatest pitchers of all time. The simulation measures how well you swing in a way that can be easily used to rate professional ballplayers, and includes a detailed breakdown of how each shot worked.
It’s not hard to see how quickly VR accessories can become popular, from golf clubs to katana, all powered by a single Vive Tracker. The user buys one tracker, connects it to the accessory they want to use, and the app recognizes that item as the virtual instrument you are currently using in the real world.
While only in the prototype stage, there are several companies that are working on adding gloves to the Vive Tracker to put your hands in the virtual world. Unlike what we’ve seen from users looking to add Leap Motion to their setup, these hands are positioned just like your Vive controllers. This means they don’t get lost and are immediately attuned to your body with a simple gesture.
The gloves currently being developed by Manus VR visualize your entire hand, so when you look down or lift your hands up, you get an incredible amount of finger and knuckle movement all over your hand. This of course doesn’t mean that every VR game will feature full hand rendering, but it does mean that some VR characters have a possible future where your hands are not only there, but in a huge part of interacting with the virtual world. Instead of holding the controller to pick up a puzzle piece, you simply reach down and actually pick it up.