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Updated SteamVR Base Stations Available To OEMs In 2018

Valve is getting ready to ramp up production of the SteamVR Tracking 2.0 base stations. The company sent out a request to SteamVR technology licensees asking for estimated purchase volumes for 2018 so that it can accurately target its production needs. 

Earlier this year, we learned about Valve’s upcoming base station design, which would reduce the cost of production, increase the field of view, increase the tracking volume, and make it possible to use more than two base stations per configuration. And the new base station design doesn’t include moving parts, so it should be more reliable. In February, Valve said that it would release the new base stations to SteamVR licensees later this year, and in June, the company said that hardware developers would have access to SteamVR Tracking 2.0 technology in the fall.

This represents is a full overhaul of the existing tracking system, and as such, it’s not compatible with the current tracking technology. The sensors found in the HTC Vive headset are not compatible with the new base stations, which means that you won’t be able to upgrade the tracking volume of your Vive headset. The new base stations are meant for new hardware that incorporates Triad Semiconductors’ TS4231 sensors.

Valve said that it would begin shipping SteamVR Tracking 2.0 base stations to eligible licensees in 2018. The company said that it expects initial demand to outpace the available supply, and it may enforce quantity limitations in the first few months. Because of the need for the TS4231 sensors, Valve suggested that only companies that are building HMDs need to apply. Peripheral makers can continue to use the Vive base stations for development.

Valve intends to sell the SteamVR Tracking 2.0 base stations in bulk orders of no less than 45 units at $60 each. The company said it would ship the orders in bulk packaging, and it will be up to hardware designers to repackage the base stations for distribution. Valve said that the base stations should be certified for sale in 51 countries when it begins shipping the hardware.

Though Valve previously revealed that SteamVR Tracking 2.0 would support more than two base stations, the initial release of the new base stations won’t support additional nodes. Valve said it intends to add support for four base stations and 10 x 10-meter tracking spaces later in 2018. The company is evaluating the possibility of supporting more than four units, but it doesn’t have a projected timeline for that feature.

Kevin Carbotte is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews of graphics cards and virtual reality hardware.