HTC has announced a new batch of tracking devices for the Vive Pro virtual reality glasses, including those that capture facial expressions and mouth movements.
The $ 130 Vive Facial Tracker connects to Vive Pro glasses and uses two cameras and infrared illumination to record lip, cheek, and jaw movements and then translate this into virtual facial expressions.
VIVE Facial Tracker precisely captures expressions and gestures through 38 blends across the lips, jaws, teeth, tongue, cheeks and chin.
HTC says the Vive Facial Tracker – which tracks up to 38 facial movements – is coming soon for users.
HTC unveiled an experimental VR face tracker in 2019, and posted the product earlier this week on Twitter.
A few developers, such as the creators of the social space Neos VR, have worked with the tool, though, until today, HTC has yet to confirm a large-scale commercial launch.
The VIVE Facial Tracker can be paired with VIVE Pro Eye integrated eye tracking for a full-face tracking experience, and this effectively translates most of a user’s face into an avatar or a motion capture system.
There is also a new third-generation VIVE Tracker version of HTC’s general-purpose virtual reality tracker.
Trackers are the size of the palm of the hand 33 percent smaller and 15 percent lighter than the previous generation, and HTC promises to increase battery life by 75 percent, and should be released soon for $ 130.
Depending on the exact date, they may end up competing with the upcoming Tundra Tracker – a smaller alternative based on SteamVR and expected to ship this summer.
These HTC units provide accurate and accurate tracking of parts of the body that are not captured by the standard VR sensors.
Many social experiences of virtual reality estimate people’s lip movement based on sound, but a new face tracker can directly capture how faces move, reflecting expressions such as smiles and frowns.
Likewise, VR trackers can be installed via dedicated consoles or attached to straps on people’s legs or feet – which often render rudimentary animations or not display at all in virtual reality.
The face tracker appears to have limited compatibility, as it was listed as working with the professional-grade Vive Pro line, but not with the newer consumer-focused Vive Cosmos.
As virtual reality developer Olivier JT pointed out via Twitter, the face tracker also doesn’t seem to support Valve Index, which is a high-end glasses whose device setup interferes with the Vive Pro.
However, face tracking could become an increasingly important part of the current generation of virtual reality.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this week that Oculus’s virtual-reality division is prioritizing capturing eye movement and facial expressions in future devices as well as releasing more realistic virtual avatars.