by Tom Brant via PC Magazine

SteamVR, the tracking technology that powers the HTC Vive virtual reality headset, will soon be available to device manufacturers royalty-free.

The move is intended boost the number of VR peripherals and other input devices compatible with the Vive, SteamVR maker Valve said this week.

At this early stage in VR development, with just three mainstream high-end headsets—PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift, in addition to the Vive—making it cheaper for third-party manufacturers to support the SteamVR platform could give Valve and HTC a competitive edge.

“It’s critical to the future of the virtual reality ecosystem to open up the tracking technology to support the growth of a healthy portfolio of products that work together with HTC Vive,” HTC Vice President Raymond Pao said in a statement. “This is an amazing way to compliment the HTC Vive and spur further innovation in VR.”

Third-party manufacturers still need to pay nearly $3,000 to attend a training course in order to use SteamVR tracking technology in their own devices. But the elimination of royalties and licensing fees will mean a significantly lower cash outlay for most.

To help increase adoption, HTC said it plans to hold training courses for manufacturers in Asia, in addition to the Valve-hosted courses in Seattle.

Each SteamVR licensee will get a hardware development kit including a reference tracking device, sensors, and software tools to help design and build new devices.

Efficient tracking technology is crucial to VR’s development, especially as a way to reduce headsets’ massive demands on CPUs. Companies like Nvidia are evaluating techniques to decrease the field of view that needs to be rendered by focusing on where the user’s eye is looking. That requires extremely responsive tracking.

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