HTC VIVE Wrist Tracker: A Wrist-Based Controller for Vive Focus 3 Headset
HTC revealed its VIVE Wrist Tracker at the CES 2022 last week. The wrist tracker is an external tracking unit with 6DoF tracking and can be worn on the user’s wrist or on external props. HTC already has a Vive Tracker but the VIVE Wrist Tracker works for standalone headsets such as the Vive Focus 3.
The Wrist Tracker will be retailing for $129 and will be arriving in the first quarter of 2022. However, the VIVE Wrist Tracker has not been designed for consumers, just like the Vive Focus 3 and the Vive Tracker. It will come in handy in those experiences specifically designed to fully leverage its capabilities. HTC has been developing some really exotic HTC accessories such as an advanced lip tracking device. A CAD file of the Wrist Tracker will soon be released that will enable people to create their own accessories such as harnesses and custom docks.
The VIVE Wrist Tracker is wireless and around a user’s arm like a watch. The Wrist Tracker can track both the orientation and position all through from the hand to the elbow. It will complement the existing Vive Focus 3 controllers and will be especially important for simulation and training experiences in which the position of the wearer’s body is important.
The tracker also forms a part of a bigger set of new features which HTC unveiled during CESW 2022 such as its 5G-powered VR experience.
The Wrist Tracker looks like a smaller and lighter version of the Vive Tracker device that was launched in 2017. It features both a strap and toggle that tells you whether the tracker should be on the left arm or the right arm. It is not multi-buttoned like the Vive Focus 3 controllers. The Wrist Tracker is simply designed to connect to the standalone VR headset wirelessly and transmit the movement data without necessarily involving the headset’s cameras. The Wrist Tracker can also be attached to inanimate objects that you want to be tracked in VR.
A virtual reality training company has reported using the Wrist Tracker to ensure that trainees are holding a fire extinguisher in the correct position in virtual reality, something that you probably won’t be able to determine when using the controllers alone. Taser manufacturer Axon is also planning to integrate it into its virtual training system.
The Vive Tracker is, undoubtedly, one of HTC’s coolest products. It has been put into multiple uses, including in leisure and professional usage. The Wrist Tracker brings Vive Tracker’s versatility into a standalone virtual reality headset, without having to install SteamVR base stations. When attached to inanimate objects, the object being tracked must, of course, be in the cameras’ field of view (FOV) although HTC is saying the tracking can continue even if this isn’t the case.
HTC also released some videos of the tracker in action in order to showcase its functionality. The videos show the tracker being used to improve performance in hand tracking. They also show the wrist tracker attached to external props.
Moving forward, this will be a very useful tracker. Companies are currently going through some bulky and cumbersome improvisations to enhance the tracking for headsets, and, particularly for tracked props. With a nifty wrist tracking solution such as the HTC VIVE Wrist Tracker, these elaborate improvisations will no longer be necessary and it will be possible to simply install a tiny tracker add-on for extra tracking capabilities.