November 17, 2017 // 10:44 a.m.
HTC's virtual reality focused Vive division has announced the opening of pre-orders for devices based around the Vive Tracker, an add-on which allows any real-world object to be tracked in virtual reality - and if Nintendo doesn't sue it'll be a minor miracle.
Announced back in January, the Vive Tracker accessory connects to third-party devices and allows HTC's Lighthouse tracking system to plot their location and orientation in the same way as the Vive's bundled controllers. While demonstrations during the unveiling focused primarily on professional usage - including rifle handling and firefighting simulations with real equipment - HTC has now revealed the first Tracker-equipped devices which will be hitting shop shelves in time for Christmas.
The first of these is likely to capture the interest of gaming giant Nintendo, and not in any positive way: The Hyperkin Hyper Blaster aims to provide a rebirth of the classic light-gun gaming genre which all-but died out when the cathode ray tube (CRT) displays on which the technology relied were phased out, and to do so it has opted for a pistol design which owes more than a nod to Nintendo's classic NES Zapper. If that weren't enough, Hyperkin is bundling a virtual reality game based entirely on Duck Hunt, the NES title with which the Zapper was first included.
In a further admission that perhaps Nintendo had the right idea all along with its motion-tracking Wii console, Hyperkin has also created tennis and ping-pong racquets which hold a Vive Tracker at their ends and come with a copy of Virtual Sports. Finally, Rebuff Reality has announced the TrackStraps, which allow Vive Trackers to be easily strapped to the user's feet and, somewhat concerningly, 'other body parts' for in-game tracking. These will be supplied in pairs, the company has confirmed, with a copy of Redfoot Bluefoot Dancing.
Pricing for the first Tracker-equipped accessories is, however, pretty high. Both the Hyper Blaster and Racquet Sports Set are priced at $149.99 (expected to become £149.99 inc. VAT in the UK) with the controller, one Vive Tracker, and game, while the TrackStraps are priced at $24.99 (likely £24.99 inc. VAT at their UK launch) with game but without the two Vive Trackers required for play. More information is available on the HTC Vive blog.