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Steam VR tracking technology now available to third parties

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Valve announced today that its Steam VR tracking technology, the same that powers the head and controller tracking for the HTC Vive headset, is now available for royalty-free licensing by third-party developers.

"This tracking technology enables hardware developers to build highly precise position and orientation sensing into devices of all kinds," reads the press release. "Valve expects the technology to be used in a variety of devices, such as VR peripherals and other input devices."

The technology being licensed includes everything needed to wirelessly track objects with the HTC Vive base stations (those two laser emitters that you mount in the corners of the room when setting up a Vive), its sensors, and the Steam VR software. To be clear, it doesn't mean we'll see new tracking systems based on the Vive's technology, but that new hardware can work with the Vive's base stations and sensors. The goal is to "support the growth of a healthy portfolio of products that work together with HTC Vive," said HTC VR vice president Raymond Pao.

The most obvious use of the technology is for custom Vive controllers—the example Valve gives is "a VR golf club." But maybe someone will go full Tron and build a tracked bodysuit? 

Though it may change, Valve currently requires interested companies to send at least one representative to an in-person training session, which will cost "approximately $3,000 USD per participant." Valve has a page set up with more information.

Tyler Wilde
Tyler Wilde

Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley alongside Apple and Microsoft, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on the early personal computers his parents brought home. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, Bushido Blade (yeah, he had Bleem!), and all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now. In 2006, Tyler wrote his first professional review of a videogame: Super Dragon Ball Z for the PS2. He thought it was OK. In 2011, he joined PC Gamer, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. After work, he practices boxing and adds to his 1,200 hours in Rocket League.