HTC Announces New Vive Pro Facial Tracking And VR Body Trackers

The facial tracker is out today, along with an upgraded version of HTC's Vive Tracker 3.0 add-on.

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HTC has announced two new accessories for its HTC Vive Pro VR headset, iterating on an existing add-on while introducing a new one for an entirely new way to interact in a virtual space. These include the brand-new Facial Tracker and an upgraded version of the VR Tracker. Both accessories will ultimately allow users to be more expressive in virtual reality, with the ability to track 38 facial expressions and more nuanced body language. They will retail for $129 each, with HTC teasing that they are "coming soon."

The third iteration of the Vive Tracker 3.0 can be used to add tracking to additional parts of your body or bring in new items into your virtual space entirely. Previous versions were rather big and heavy, making multiple attachments to your limbs challenging. HTC says this latest version is around 33% smaller and 15% lighter, with the benefit of improved tracking, too.

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The VR trackers are roughly four inches smaller than the previous iteration, released back in 2018. Despite this, HTC says that the battery will last around 75% longer, with charging now handled with a new USB-C port instead of the old microUSB one. The device is also backwards-compatible with other VR Trackers you might have, as well as the full suite of HTC Vive accessories, making it an easy replacement or addition to your current setup.

The more interesting announcement is the HTC's new Vive Facial Tracker. The device is like a small sensor and camera array that clips onto the front of the Vive headset, allowing you to capture facial movements from your eyes down. HTC says it tracks 38 facial movements across the lips, jaw, teeth, tongue, chin and cheeks, which developers can then map onto characters for increased immersion.

It's clear that HTC sees the potential of shared spaces in VR, with the need for more realistic and expressive avatars for VR users. Microsoft might not be working on a VR headset, but it's addressing this need too with its new AR platform, Mesh, which is looking at ways to make objects and people persistent in multiple virtual spaces at a time.

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