HTC wants to make tracking the movement of a user's hands and any tools they may hold easier for Vive virtual reality headsets. The Vive Wrist Tracker, a bracelet with blobs, promises accurate data from the fingertips to the elbow, even when the headset can't see the tracker or the user's hands obstruct a handheld object.
The device, which was unveiled at CES 2022 today, pairs with HTC's all-in-one Vive Focus 3 headset, which uses onboard cameras to track a user's hands. This approach can fall short for a variety of technical reasons, including the fact that it's difficult to tell whether a hand is small and close to the camera or large and far away. The invisible LEDs on the Vive Wrist Tracker provide more points of reference and precise scale, allowing the headset to calculate precise location and movement in 3D space.
Despite its larger size, the Vive Wrist Tracker is about the same weight as a smartwatch and is 85 percent smaller and 50% lighter than a Vive Focus 3 controller. It comes with a watch wristband, but they can also attach it to other objects, such as a weapon or a tool, to provide extremely accurate tracking in a variety of virtual reality scenarios.
The new Vive Wrist Tracker will be available for $129 in the first quarter of 2022.
According to HTC, the company has also developed an open-source 3D tracking solution based on a low-cost Arduino board and 3D sensor that can be attached to a tool and used with the Vive Wrist Tracker. The plans will be available for download and experimentation by users, according to the company.
HTC also showed off two new charging options for the Focus 3 headset at CES. The Focus 3 Carrying Case is a weatherproof tote with a handle, shoulder strap latches, and a lockable zipper. You can plug a charger into an external port and charge everything at once you've stuffed a headset and controllers inside. The device will also pair the controllers with the headset automatically, even if they have already paired, which is a useful feature in environments with multiple headsets, such as arcades, schools, and training rooms, where controllers and headsets easily mixed up. It will be available for $139 in the first quarter of 2022.
Similarly, the new Focus 3 Multi Battery Charger caters to the needs of installations that require simultaneous charging of multiple batteries. The device stores and charges four detachable headset batteries at once, allowing arcades to quickly swap out drained batteries for fully charged ones without having to wait long between games or training sessions. In the first quarter of 2022, it will be available for $119.
The company also announced a new partnership with Lumen Technologies at CES, promising to deliver wireless VR experiences that are comparable to wired PC-based VR via private 5G networks and edge computing systems.
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