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HTC to Launch New Tracking Module, Subscription Service for Vive VR

Variety logo Variety 1/5/2017 Janko Roettgers
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A year after the launch of the Vive VR headset, HTC isn’t done wth making new hardware for virtual reality: The company announced a new tracking module at CES Wednesday that will allow developers to turn all kinds of physical objects into controllers for virtual reality experiences.

The new module, dubbed the Vive Tracker, will ship in the second quarter of this year, and HTC didn’t announce a price point for the new hardware yet. The company did show off a video of a VR design studio that developed a camera accessory for its VR experiences, which essentially consists of a grip and the Vive Tracker, and allows users to take photos of their VR experiences.

HTC Vive GM Daniel O’Brien said that the company plans to give away “thousands” of Vive Trackers to developers in the coming months.

HTC’s other major announcement at the show is a subscription service for Viveport, the company’s VR app store. Viveport President Rickard Steiber likened the subscription service to Netflix and Spotify, arguing that consumers will eventually gravitate to monthly subscriptions over one-off sales. Viveport already has over 1000 titles available on its platform, Steiber said, and expects to host 3000 VR titles by the end of this year.

Steiber also argued that subscriptions may be a way to get additional types of content for VR. “We want the Hollywood studios to come to our platform,” he said. There’s no word yet on how much Viveport will charge consumers for a monthly VR subscription.

In addition to the subscription service, Viveport is also launching a number of developer-focused offerings, including a portal that will allow VR arcade owners to directly license titles for commercial use. “We believe that there will be 5000 arcade locations by the end of this year,” he said.

Finally, HTC is also getting ready to launch a few other accessories. The company will make a new head strap for the Vive with integrated headphones available in Q2, and has cooperated with TPCast to bring wireless connectivity to the Vive as well. TPCast’s wireless solution, which promises up to two hours of cable-free playtime, will become available in Q2 for $249.

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