HTC wants to make it easier for Vive virtual reality headsets to track the movement of a user’s hands and the tools they might be holding. The company’s solution, a blobby bracelet called the Vive Wrist Tracker, promises accurate data from the fingertips to the elbow, even when the headset can’t see the tracker or a user’s hands occlude a handheld object.
The device, announced today at CES 2022, is designed for use with HTC’s all-in-one Vive Focus 3 headset, which tracks the location of a user’s hands using onboard cameras. That approach can fall short for a number of technical reasons, including that it’s hard to tell if a hand is small and close to the camera, or large and far away. Invisible LEDs on the Vive Wrist Tracker add more points of reference and exact scale to the equation, allowing the headset to calculate precise location and movement through a 3D space.
The Vive Wrist Tracker is about the same weight as a smartwatch, even though it’s more bulbous, and it’s 85% smaller and 50% lighter than a Vive Focus 3 controller. It comes attached to a standard watch wristband, but can also be attached to other objects, like a weapon or a tool, to provide highly accurate tracking in a wide variety of VR scenarios.
The new Vive Wrist Tracker will available in the first quarter of 2022, according to HTC, but the company did not specify a price point.
HTC says it has also designed an open-source 3D tracking solution that uses an inexpensive Arduino board and 3D sensor which can be attached to a tool and used in concert with the Vive Wrist Tracker. The company plans to release the plans free for users to download and experiment on their own.
HTC also announced two new charging solutions for the Focus 3 headset at CES. The Focus 3 Carrying Case is a weatherproof tote with a handle, latches for a shoulder strap, and a lockable zipper. Once a headset and controllers are packed inside, you can plug a charger into an external port and charge all the contents at once. The device will also automatically pair the controllers with the headset, even if they weren’t before, which is an incredibly useful feature for places that have multiple headsets, like arcades, schools, and training rooms, where controllers and headsets can easily get mixed up.
Similarly, the new Focus 3 Multi Battery Charger addresses the need of installations that need to charge lots of batteries at once. The device holds four of the headset’s detachable batteries and will charge them all at the same high speed, enabling businesses like arcades to easily swap out drained batteries for fully-charged ones, without long pauses in between games or training sessions.
HTC did not specify launch dates or price for the new charging accessories.
The company also announced a new partnership with telecommunications company Lumen Technologies at CES, promising to deliver wireless VR experiences that are comparable to wired PC-based VR, using private 5G networks and edge computing systems.
Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.