Valve follows through on plan to make SteamVR tracking tech freely available

After promising it at GDC last year, Valve announced today that it's offering royalty-free licensing of the tech (now branded as SteamVR Tracking) to interested third-party hardware manufacturers.

Back at last year's GDC, Valve talked up its Lighthouse positional tracking system for room-scale virtual reality experiences and laid plans to make Lighthouse tech freely available to any hardware company that wanted it. 

Those plans have come to fruition today, as Valve announced that it is offering royalty-free licensing of the tech (now branded as SteamVR Tracking) to interested third-party hardware developers.

This is potentially good news for VR devs who appreciate the room-scale capabilities afforded to the HTC Vive, as Valve is now making a concerted effort to push the tracking tech that makes room-scale VR possible into other companies' hands.

While the SteamVR Tracking tech is being made available without licensing fees, would-be licensees do need to sign up as a Steam partner and pay $3,000 to a third-party firm, Synapse, to attend an in-person training program in Seattle. As part of that program licensees will get a dev kit that includes two base stations, an assortment of sensors and other tools for building objects the base stations can track, and a bunch of documentation.

According to a FAQ aimed at devs, Valve is looking into ways to offer the classes remotely, and to allow licensees to build their own base stations. Full details of the program, as well as a guide to enrolling, can be found over on Valve's SteamVR Tracking hub.

For another perspective on the tracking tech from someone unaffiliated with Valve, check out VR dev Oliver Kreylos' evaluation of the tech's tracking accuracy back in May.

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