Valve took steps to remove the largest barrier preventing would-be peripheral designers from pursuing SteamVR tracking certification. Hardware creators are no longer required to take an expensive training course.
In August, Valve launched a licensing program that would give hardware makers the right to put Lighthouse tracking sensors in their devices. When the program launched, Valve insisted that each licensee send an industrial designer, mechanical engineer, or electrical engineer to a training course in Seattle, hosted by Synapse, at the cost of $3,000 per person.
Valve doesn’t charge a royalty fee on licensed product sales, but the cost of the training course is effectively an entry fee, but Valve says it believes in keeping VR open and making it accessible to developers, creators, and consumers. To that end, the company did away with its mandate that all licensees attend the in-person course.
Valve now offers an online certification course (in English and Chinese) that you can take for free. Upon completion of the online course, you’ll receive a license to use Valve’s tracking technology, although the in-person course is still available if you’d prefer to learn from an expert.
Valve also announced that it would offer SteamVR base stations to creators later this year. The company didn’t offer a price, and it’s unclear if consumers will get access to the new base stations at the same time.
Valve said that over 500 companies signed up for SteamVR Tracking licensing while the $3,000 training requirement was in place. With the costly barrier to entry removed, the number of licensees is poised to increase significantly. There’s no telling what kinds of devices we’ll see in the next year.
If you're interested in becoming a SteamVR Tracking Licensee, you can find all the necessary information at the SteamVR Tracking partner page. Of course, you could wait for the release of the Vive Tracking device and skip the Lighthouse sensor integration altogether.
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Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.