SteamVR Tracking 2.0 Improves Base Stations To Cover Warehouses

Valve’s Lighthouse tracking system for SteamVR headsets remains arguably the best in the industry, and it’s set for a big upgrade this November.
The company this week issued a tracking technology update over on Steam where it revealed some surprising new plans for what it called SteamVR Tracking 2.0. Crucially, the post confirms Valve will be releasing a new type of base station tracking unit in November of this year.
We saw Valve’s Joe Ludwig hold an early prototype of this unit up for all to see at an event a few months ago. He said it would be “cheaper, smaller, lighter” than the current base stations that come with the HTC Vive. This week’s update also confirms it will be “quieter, lower power,” and “more reliable” than its predecessor.
With 2.0’s arrival users will also be able to support more than two base stations with their SteamVR setups. At the event earlier this year Gabe Newell spoke of multi-room VR experiences in which multiple base stations throughout a house could turn the entire building into a virtual world. It looks like 2.0 could start to deliver on that vision.
By swapping out parts in the new system, Valve claims to have made its tracking tech perform even better than before. The new units use “sync-on-beam” technology, in which bursts of data are delivered through laser and sync hits. This replaces the sync blinker system in the original model that the company claims caused interference between base stations and drove up the close. Early units are available to partners this month, which the new model should be available in November.
The news does raise a few questions, however. In the same update, Valve notes that it will soon offer support for an updated component of the Triad Semiconductor used to track devices. The new component, dubbed TS4231, should be going into mass production later this year — suggesting new SteamVR products might be on the way soon — and Valve recommends that new SteamVR devices releasing from here on out switch to the new component over the current TS3633, as the new base stations are not compatible with it.

Old base stations will still be able to track new devices, but this news throws into question if the HTC Vive will be compatible with the new base stations. We’re following up on this right now and we’ll bring you answers as soon as we have them. It’s likely that new headsets like the one coming from LG will sport the new component instead, but what does this mean for Vive?
Either way, big changes are coming to SteamVR soon and that’s without mentioning the new prototype controllers the company has in the works too.
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