While VR technology has been a pipedream for decades, it's beginning to look like the tech may have truly caught on. Many more people are now looking at the VR space as a place to develop their games and other software as well as hardware and Valve has now taken steps to make the technology that much easier to get. Third Party hardware developers now have access to Steam VR Tracking, completely free of charge.
One of the great things about VR is that, while it's current focus is on video games and entertainment software, it has potential uses that go far beyond that limited scope. However, for third parties to implement their own ideas, they need access to the parts that make up the existing VR infrastructure. If there's one thing we can all agree on when it comes to current virtual reality technology, it's not cheap. This can make it impossible for developers to get access to the tools they need if they're a startup with little or no money. However, money won't be an issue if you want access to Valve's VR Tracking. It's now available for free. No cost to the third party hardware company up front, and no royalty fees after the fact. You still have to become an official licensee, but once you are, Valve will even train you on how to use the hardware so that you can get the most out of it. However, as the training program is being offered by a third-party, it does have a cost, $3000.
Steam VR Tracking is the aspect of the HTC Vive headset that allows the system to register your location in space, and move you through the game space as you move your head or your hands. Such a piece of equipment could be used for all sorts of devices, not necessarily VR related.
Each licensee will receive a development kit that includes the device, sensors, and software, in order to make it all work.
Valve is a major proponent of open sourcing their technology. They did something similar with their gamepad earlier this year, in hopes that others could create new accessories for it. The company truly seems to want to expand the scope and capabilities of VR technology, and as such, they feel that making this technology widely available is the best way to do that. Maybe somebody else will create the next great VR demo.
One of the beautiful things about VR technology being in its infancy is that nobody has any preconceptions about what it's capable of doing. Somebody could use the tracking technology to improve on an existing aspect of VR tech, like the HTC Vive's hand controls, or add something entirely new.
Do you have a brilliant idea for Steam VR Tracking? Let us know what it is in the comments.