HTC Vive, the partnership that helped forge the VR market as we know it today, has its eyes set on a future where we’re fully rendered in the virtual worlds we’re visiting.
It has already taken steps towards that future with the wireless tracker, allowing for PC-level performance without wires, Vive Trackers that allow you to track your limbs and other real-world objects, and the Eye Pro tracker makes it possible to track gaze and eyebrow movements, but there’s still a way to go before it’s fully realised. Today, it comes a step closer with the reveal of the new Facial Tracker and updated Vive Tracker 3.0.
Designed as an add-on for the business-focused Vive Pro rather than the consumer-focused Vive Cosmos that attaches to the front of the headset, the Vive Facial Tracker has the ability to track up to 38 facial movements across the lips, jaw, teeth, tongue, chin and cheeks that, when combined with the Eye Pro tracker, provides a complete virtual rendering of your face in VR.
It’s comprised of two cameras with a 60Hz tracking rate, ultra-low 6ms latency and an IR illuminator to provide a high level of tracking, even in dark environments.
That might sound cool, but it goes much further than that, with the potential to make virtual meetings much more life-like with realistic avatars. It could also allow users able to pick up on facial expressions and other communicative nuances lost in VR communication up until this point, making for a better virtual connection to those you work alongside.
Alongside the Facial Tracker, the company also revealed the updated Vive Tracker 3.0, sporting not only a 75% increase in battery life, now lasting seven hours before needing a top-up, but a 15% reduction in weight and a 33% smaller body, making for a more versatile tracker that won’t be so noticeable if you’ve got them attached to your elbows and ankles for full-body VR.
The reduction in size and weight hasn’t compromised on its tracking capabilities either, with HTC Vive claiming the same sub-millimetre tracking and 240-degree FOV for a high-end tracking experience.
It’s also fully backwards compatible with the same Pogo pin and mounting layout as the original, allowing for an easy upgrade if you already make use of the tech, and unlike the Pro-focused Facial Tracker, the standard Vive Tracker 3.0 is compatible with any SteamVR headset.
The good news is that both are available to buy from the Vive website right now, with both the Vive Facial Tracker and Vive Tracker 3.0 coming in at £129/$129 each, with availability at third-party retailers expected to follow soon.