Just about two months ago, at CES 2017, HTC announced that it’s doubling down on the Vive ecosystem and revealed the Vive tracker for developers and Deluxe Audio Head Strap for consumers. Now, at GDC we've learned that both products are coming out soon, and they’ll both cost $100.
HTC’s Vive Tracker device will hit the market first, but it is for developers only at this stage. The Vive Tracker is a universal Lighthouse-tracked device that you can attach to anything. HTC is encouraging developers to use the tracker to bring peripherals and accessories into the virtual space and to come up with creative ideas that leverage the robust 6-degrees of freedom (6DoF) tracking that Lighthouse offers.
“We see an incredibly strong future for VR, and have created an entire ecosystem around Vive. The Vive ecosystem is evolving, adaptable and will continue to grow to drive the industry forward," said Daniel O’Brien, GM VR, US, HTC Vive. “The Vive Tracker is a key piece of that strategy and when paired with Vive technology and programs such as Viveport and Vive X, represents a significant opportunity for us and our partners to make the Vive ecosystem synonymous with the growth of VR."
HTC is donating the first 1,000 trackers to developers with unique and promising ideas. Demand is high; HTC said in mid-February that it had received more than 2,300 requests for free trackers. The company shipped trackers to some developers already, but it's still deciding who will receive them.
Steve Bowler, President of Cloudgate Games, started experimenting with full body awareness in Island 359 using a second set of Vive controllers before the trackers were available. In early February, Bowler announced that Cloudgate would show off the full body tracking system at GDC.
HTC told us it doesn’t have plans to increase the number of giveaways, but developers will be able to buy trackers soon. The Vive trackers will go on sale on March 27. They will be available through Vive.com, and each unit will set you back $100. HTC is waiting for the developers to fill the content and accessory ecosystem before releasing the trackers to consumers; the consumer launch is coming later this year.
Vive owners can get excited about a different accessory, though: The Vive Deluxe Audio Head Strap, which features attached over-the-ear headphone on a rigid strap system with a dial to tighten the strap on your head. This deluxe head strap ought to simplify putting on and taking off the headset.
The Deluxe Audio Head Strap is still a few months out. HTC said it will begin accepting pre-orders on May 2 and that deliveries should begin in June. The head strap upgrade will also set you back $100. Corporate customers won’t have to wait as long, though, as HTC said that “going forward, all new Vive BE sales will include the Deluxe Audio Strap with every purchase.” The company didn’t say whether or not it increased the price of the Vive BE.