HTC Announces 6DOF Controller Tracking Dev Kit for Vive Focus

HTC today announced a 6DOF controller tracking add-on for Vive Focus which brings 6DOF controller tracking to the device. The add-on, which includes a pair of controllers, is being released as a development kit.

Vive Focus, HTC’s standalone VR headset, had a full blown launch in China at the beginning of 2018, and was released as a development kit in the West in May. One of the headset’s defining features was inside-out 6DOF headtracking, but the single controller that the headset ships with offers only basic 3DOF input.

Vive China President Alvin Wang Graylin announces the Vive Focus 6DOF controller dev kit on stage at WCVRI in Nanchang, the captiral of China’s Jiangxi province. | Image courtesy HTC

Seemingly in response to both Oculus Quest and the experimental 6DOF controller add-on for the Mirage Solo, HTC today announced that the Vive Focus will get its own 6DOF controller tracking add-on as a dev kit, which adapts existing Focus headsets for tracking a pair of new 6DOF controllers. Developers can submit their interest in receiving the Vive Focus 6DOF controller dev kit add-on starting today.

While Vive Focus was among the first standalone VR headset to include inside-out 6DOF headtracking, being paired with a 3DOF controller puts it in a very awkward design space where developers have to design for a system which can fully track the user’s head but can only partly track the user’s hand, which ultimately limits the kinds of games and experiences that can be built for the device. Adding good 6DOF controller tracking to the headset stands to increase immersion and enable more compelling content.

HTC previously announced that the Vive Focus 3DOF controller would get a 6DOF mode, but the controllers we’re seeing from the 6DOF controller dev-kit are different controllers all together.

Few details have emerged about how the tracking system works, but HTC says that the 6DOF controller dev kit for Vive Focus includes two new controllers and a “tracking attachment” for the headset itself. Other headsets like Quest use on-board cameras to locate and track IR LEDs on the controllers. Vive Focus already includes on-board cameras for managing its own headtracking, but the add-on suggests some other tech is being employed to track the new 6DOF controllers. From the images we have, the Vive Focus 6DOF controllers appear to have a looped top which likely contains hardware to support the tracking tech.

When asked what HTC’s plans are for bringing 6DOF controller tracking to consumers, the company told Road to VR that it has plans to release new headsets based on Vive Wave (HTC’s mobile VR OS which also powers other non-HTC headsets) which will include 6DOF positional tracking. The dev kit, HTC said, will enable developers to build for those forthcoming devices.

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