Dr. Masahiko Inami, a professor at the University of Tokyo’s Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, recently tweeted a picture of an incredibly small, homebrewed SteamVR tracker that has us reeling at the implications for ever-smaller tracked objects in VR.
Measuring about the size of a single AirPod earphone, Dr. Inami says the SteamVR-compatible sensor unit only cost ¥300 in parts, or around $2.70 USD to make.
すごい、vive trackerの自作レシーバー。部品代300円だって! pic.twitter.com/teyDMbgNz5
— 稲見昌彦 Masahiko Inami (@drinami) July 3, 2018
The mini-tracker seems to lack a battery, which would noticeably increase the size. As an engineering feat though, it shows just how small things can get when dealing with SteamVR tracking sensors—the lightweight, low power, low-cost ASIC sensors that can be used to receive lasers emitted from SteamVR tacking basestations.
Valve provides royalty free access to its sensors, and can be purchased from a number of part suppliers on their own.
SteamVR supports up to 32 sensors for a single object; as you would imagine, the higher the sensors on a single object, the greater 360 coverage you’ll have. HTC’s own Vive Tracker contains 23 sensors for 360 degree coverage, all of which are in unique positions to better track the object in VR. The mini-tracker’s three sensors are likely a bare minimum for basic tracking, and we wouldn’t expect something that small to be nearly as robust as the consumer Vive Tracker mentioned above.
While somewhat impractical, it’s certainly a cool way to illustrate just how little you might need to create your own mini-tracker at home.
For users looking to jump into SteamVR hardware hacking, a company called Virtual Builds is offering a full SteamVR tracker kit, which includes everything you need to create your own SteamVR 1.0 tracker.
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