The device will enable developers to create such VR products as a baseball bat that you can swing or a pair of motion-control gloves that you can pair with a tracker and use in a VR application or game. HTC is showing off the Vive Tracker at the Game Developers conference in San Francisco and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
HTC also said that its new Vive Deluxe Audio Strap will go on sale in June, also for $100. The device will be available for preorder on May 2.
And, in a permanent upgrade to the Vive Business Edition (BE), all new BE purchases will include the Deluxe Audio Strap with no price increase ($1200). Vive BE features dedicated customer support, an extended warranty, and a commercial use license for Vive.
For the first time, Vive is launching a financing program in North America. For $66 a month and no-interest financing for 12 months, users can purchase a Vive on Vive.com with zero money down. Additional new financing options are available at varying finance terms.
“We see an incredibly strong future for VR and have created an entire ecosystem around Vive. The Vive ecosystem is evolving, adaptable, and will continue to grow to drive the industry forward,” said Daniel O’Brien, an HTC executive, in a statement. “The Vive Tracker is a key piece of that strategy, and when paired with Vive technology and programs such as Viveport and Vive X, represents a significant opportunity for us and our partners to make the Vive ecosystem synonymous with the growth of VR.”
HTC has already received over 2,300 applications for the first 1,000 Vive Trackers. Applications crossed a wide spectrum of non-gaming applications in areas such as education, enterprise, training, health, and more. In fact, nearly 60 percent of applications were for non-gaming and non-entertainment content.
“Building an object that can be tracked alongside the Vive can be complex,” said Joe Ludwig of Valve, in a statement. “But the Vive tracker makes tracking objects in VR so simple that anyone can do it. We’re thrilled that HTC has developed this product and we’re looking forward to seeing what people build.”
The Vive Tracker will be available for purchase in two phases. It will first be on sale for those looking to create Vive content by March 27. General consumer availability of the Vive Tracker is expected later in the year, as the accessories and content ecosystem for Vive the Tracker is built and new accessories are ready for purchase by consumers.
Island 359 developer CloudGate Studio is just one of the early adopters of the Vive Tracker. CloudGate is using multiple Trackers for full body awareness of players within the company’s action-shooter, Island 359.
“We’ve been experimenting with full body motion control since we first got our hands on the Vive, but it was never quite right,” said Steve Bowler, president of CloudGate Studio, in a statement. “Using the Vive Trackers we’ve been able to push the limits of VR and create our Virtual Self system, which lets players see and use their full body in VR. You can now comfortably kick objects, see yourself crouching, and even lie prone with one-to-one accuracy in ‘Island 359′.”
The Vive Deluxe Audio Strap combines integrated audio with new comfort features, ensuring a more comfortable feel during long sessions. The Deluxe Audio Strap features a new sizing dial that enables fast adjustments for single or multiple Vive users, making it possible to jump into a VR environment more quickly.