Alongside opening pre-orders for the headset, HTC today revealed that Vive Cosmos will support SteamVR Tracking with an optional faceplate ‘Mod’, one of several which the company says will expand the headset’s functionality.
Today HTC revealed the price, specs, and release date for Vive Cosmos—for all those details see here. Additionally the company announced an optional ‘Mod’ for the headset which will allow users to swap out the faceplate for one which supports SteamVR Tracking via Lighthouse base stations.
Out of the box, Cosmos supports ‘inside-out’ tracking which uses six cameras on the headset to determine the position of the headset and its controllers. This means the headset doesn’t rely on external trackers like the prior Vive and Vive Pro headsets.
While we’ve seen solid inside-out tracking in recent headsets, the outside-in approach with external trackers still tends to offer the best tracking performance in terms of accuracy, precision, latency, and coverage.
SteamVR Tracking is one of the leading outside-in tracking systems and it powers headsets like the Vive, Vive Pro, Valve Index, and Pimax, as well as input devices like the Vive ‘wand’ controllers, Index ‘Knuckles’ controllers, and Vive Trackers.
HTC designed cosmos with a modular faceplate and today announced the ‘External Tracking Module’ which will supplant the inside-out tracking system with SteamVR Tracking. This allows users to tap into the SteamVR Tracking ecosystem, enabling the headset to work with 1.0 and 2.0 base stations.
HTC tells Road to VR that the Cosmos controllers, which are based on the headset’s inside-out tracking, will not work when the headset is used with SteamVR Tracking. Instead users will need to use the original Vive controllers, Index controllers, or other controllers which support SteamVR Tracking.
The External Tracking Module faceplate for Cosmos appears to only have 10 SteamVR Tracking sensors—less than half of the number found on the original Vive—though HTC says users can expect the same level of tracking performance as they would from the Vive.
This modularity is a boon for early-adopters who may have already invested in SteamVR Tracking base stations when buying into the original Vive, those who would like to use Valve’s advanced Index controllers, and anyone who doesn’t mind setting up external trackers for extra tracking performance.
HTC says the Cosmos SteamVR Tracking mod will cost less than $200 and launch in Q1 2020. Cosmos itself is priced at $700 and launches October 3rd, 2019. HTC says that in the future it plans to release other Mods which will offer other expanded functionality for the headset.