CES was once a stage used by HTC to announce new smartphones, but as the world turns the spotlight now points toward virtual reality. In this article we’ll talk about a couple of new HTC Vive hardware accessories that were announced during CES 2017.
During Day 1 at CES, Vive’s GM, Dan O’Brien revealed a couple of accessories HTC has been working on to boost your VR experience.
In relation to the HMD, the Vive now has an add-on that replaces the original headstrap. The new strap has a dial on the back to quickly adjust when putting it on and headphones conveniently drape down the sides.
The second and most interesting piece of hardware is the puck-like tracker that can attach to practically anything making it usable in your virtual environment.
Vive Deluxe Audio Strap
As you’ll see in the video below, the new headstrap looks more comfortable where it fits on the back of your head. The side straps are no longer elastic and use a dial on the back to adjust the right fit on your head. The new strap also has a pair of over-the-ear headphones that are adjustable by a swinging arm and sliding ear piece.
For those that still want the new strap, but prefer the sound of their own headphones can opt for a version that doesn’t include the headphones.
The new tracker can attach to almost anything and allows developers to come up with ways to make VR feel even more realistic. The tracker looks like a hockey puck with three cleats on the top that have IR receivers all over them. This is basically the top portion of the Vive controller, sealed up in the middle where the 6-hour battery is housed.
The bottom of the tracker has universal threads for mounting to a tripod or other devices. There’s also a six-pin port and mirco USB port for external peripherals to integrate with.
What are the benefits?
While HTC didn’t unveil a brand new HMD, the VR focused company came to CES to show their dedication to improve the current hardware and add more value to the early adopters.
The new Vive Deluxe Audio Headstrap provides more comfort than the original. It has an easy to adjust mechanism that is nice for personal use, but ultimately, the dial in the back makes it convenient to quickly fit the HMD on new users during demos and friend visits.
Take for instance, playing the game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. Your friends and family come over for some quality social time so you pull out your Vive and after a brief walk-through the first user tries to tackle the bomb. A few minutes and an explosion go by and now it’s time for the next victim. Adjusting the straps and headphones with the new headstrap will be a breeze and is going to be the price when released.
The new Vive Tracker is HTC’s solution to anyone who wants to use external cameras for mixed reality videos. The tracker can be added to anything you want to use in VR. This accessory will come in handy in training simulations for many organizations.
The HTC booth at CES, more like a suite, did a great job providing use cases for the Vive Tracker. HTC invited some of its partners to demonstrate the ways they are using the tracker with their own VR experiences. Imagine holding a fire hose while responding to a simulated house fire. When you pull the level to activate a water stream the hose creates haptic feedback and the reel of the hose retracts enough to give the person a slight tug of resistance.
Additional examples from CES reveals that companies are working on integration with sport equipment like baseball bats, golf clubs, and tennis rackets. We’re also going to see a growing number of pistol and rifle controllers with functioning triggers, buttons, and haptic feedback. You can even pair a phone with the tracker and add up to four more players in a single tracked room.
The tracker’s most vital role is that it provides IR tracking to work with the Vive’s lighthouses. It opens the door for creators who want to introduce users to some innovating product, but who might not have the engineering background to get over the hurdle of room-scale tracking.
When to expect release and cost?
Both the Vive Tracker and Vive Deluxe Audio Strap will be available as early as April of this year. We’re still waiting to see if HTC will open up for pre-orders in the coming months so stay tuned for an update as soon as we get additional info.
Official pricing wasn’t released during CES so we’re just going to list our best guesses.
- Vive Tracker = $79
- Vive Deluxe Audio Strap = $69
Many of us have shelled out a pretty penny to be the early adopters of this fine VR system so let’s hope HTC takes it easy on us with the pricing. Another thing to consider is that partners will likely offer a Vive Tracker with their compatible accessory. So if you buy the mobile phone product it should come with a Tracker and the cost of the two pieces will be lumped together.
As of right now, HTC has 1000 Trackers available for developers to start working on their own projects. In fact, this seems to be a theme HTC is sticking with…
Get our products into the hands of the creators to help boost the ecosystem.
HTC is investing in the future of virtual reality (insert hat tip).
While some hopefuls were expecting HTC to announce a 2nd generation Vive, the community is getting something better. Sustainability with the HMD we already have. The Vive is swimming in a sea of partners and together they will make virtual reality a better place to be.
I look forward to the ease of use that the Vive Deluxe Audio Strap will bring my friends and family. It will be a pleasure to add extra participants into my play area with the Vive Tracker attached to a mobile device.
Did you see any other hardware at CES that peaked your interest? How will you use the above mentioned items by HTC in your home or for your business adventures?
- Get your Vive Deluxe Audio Strap today! - June 6, 2017
- New PC bundle financing options with Vive - April 27, 2017
- Vive Tracker sells out in three days - April 7, 2017
- Vive anniversary deals are live! - April 5, 2017
- Back the PP Gun get a Vive Tracker in March, err April - March 2, 2017
- Sign-ups for Vive Tracker now open - January 25, 2017
- Vive hardware announced during CES 2017 - January 20, 2017
- VR For Impact offers $10million to develop for humanity - January 19, 2017
- Digital Trends calls Vive Best Product of 2016 - January 1, 2017
- Vive After Christmas Sale - December 27, 2016