Earlier this week HTC announced that the Vive Pro headset would cost £799 on its own, and that the original Vive bundle would get a price cut to £499. What it didn't announce was that it was also releasing an upgraded version of the Vive Tracker, the bizarre-looking devices that tracks real-world objects in virtual reality.
But despite the best efforts not to tell anyone, that news has inevitably come out. In fact the new gizmo hasn't actually been officially acknowledged by either HTC or Valve. Instead we only have a confirmation tweet from HTC's Shen Ye, which means the details are few and far between. So what do we know?
Well the Vive logo on top of the tracker is blue, which helps differentiate it from last year's model, and it's the same price as the original (£100). Crucially the 2018 tracker will be compatible with Valve's SteamVR BS2.0 tracking system, which offers a range of new features including multi-room tracking and a larger tracking space. That'll be quite important going forward, since the original Vive trackers are only compatible with BS1.0, which will be obsolete once HTC and Valve release the upgraded trackers.
Other than that everything looks pretty much the same. Same weird design, and the same basic purpose, meaning developers can take advantage of them to bring new and exciting peripherals into virtual reality without necessarily having to build all the relevant tracking components into the device itself. Crucially that also means Vive users can buy maybe one or two of the pricey trackers that can move between accessories, rather than dealing with the expense of peripherals that can track themselves.
It's been used quite a lot for guns, by both HTC and third parties like Hyperkin, which kind of makes sense, though I've also seen them implemented in greater numbers for tracking feet in a penalty shoot-out demo.
The 2018 Vive Tracker is available now, and can be purchased from the online Vive store. The 2017 version is no longer available there, to avoid confusion, but if you're buying from someone else make sure you watch out for that blue logo. [Slashgear]