There’s now also a lower barrier of entry for developers using the tech.
Valve has announced that it will soon be selling standalone SteamVR Tracking base stations directly. While you could previously order the tech from HTC, later this year, consumers and developers will be able to purchase the new and improved single-rotor tracking model from Valve’s online store. With the current standalone tracking stations costing $130 from HTC, the Steam owner states that the move from a dual-rotor to single-rotor design could bring “rapid cost reductions,” according to Road To VR. This suggests that the new tracking station may be significantly cheaper.
Interestingly, Valve has also seen fit to make life easier for peripheral developers, removing the previously mandatory Seattle-based $3,000 introductory course for new license holders. With the Steam owner developing the tracking technology and HTC creating the Vive headset, its plans to sell the SteamVR base stations separately suggests that Valve still owns the rights to the tech. Whether this means the trackers will eventually be compatible with rival headsets, however, remains to be seen.
To date, Valve has revealed that over 500 different companies are developing for the SteamVR base stations. In 2015, VR rival Oculus announced that it had similar plans to open up its tracking system Constellation to third parties. However, the company has failed to mention any news on the initiative since then.
With a recent patent suggesting that Sony is hard at work developing its own Vive-inspired sensor, it looks like motion tracking in VR is very much here to stay. While nothing has been formally announced, Valve’s decision to decouple the SteamVR sensor from the Vive suggests that the company is expecting a new range of compatible sensors and headsets to appear in the future.