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HTC reveals strange Vive Pro face trackers — the future of VR is about tracking your lips

HTC Vive Facial Tracker
(Image credit: HTC Vive)

Earlier this week, HTC teased new add-ons coming to the HTC Vive VR headsets. Now, the company has officially revealed what we were all expecting, and it's looking to be the future of VR for those willing to spend.

HTC has announced its Vive Facial Tracker and new Vive Tracker, both of which will be able to track more of a user's expressions and movements, seemingly to the point where they may as well be in a full motion-capture suit to film the next Hollywood blockbuster. In fact, that's kind of what they're being targeted for. 

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HTC Vive Facial Tracker and Body Tracker: What we know

The HTC Vive Facial Tracker will be officially released in the U.S. on March 24, priced at $129.99. It will translate a user's entire face, including facial expressions and mouth movement. It will also track up to 38 facial movements using blend shapes across the lips, jaw, teeth, tongue, cheeks, and chin. Wait, does that mean we can stick our tongue out at others in virtual reality? Neat.

It also boasts sub-10 millisecond latency so lips match a user's voice. It has a 60 Hz tracking rate, and comes with dual-cameras to track motion and infrared illumination when in low-light settings.

The HTC Vive Facial Tracker also works with other modules, including the Vive Pro Eye to bring even more of the user into VR. However, it only works with the Vive Pro series of VR headsets, which means the HTC Vive Cosmos or Cosmos Elite aren't getting any love.

As for the Vive Tracker 3.0, it is also priced at $129.99 and comes out on March 24. The updated tracker will have 75% more battery life for up to 7.5 hours and be 33% smaller and 15% lighter than its predecessors, coming in at 75 grams. It has a field of view (FOV) of 240 degrees.

These add-ons could take VR beyond gaming with HTC marketing the Pro series and these new trackers for simulation training, production and developers. While a step in the right direction for VR, none of this is cheap. Adding these up, getting a Pro headset, a top-of-the-line gaming laptop or PC, and these new add-ons will cost thousands of dollars.

While not quite as mainstream as the Oculus Quest 2 due to its price, the Vive could find an audience thanks to the facial tracker and updated body trackers, which could be a game-changer for apps such as VRChat, and could possibly change VR dating, too.