Valve Is Solving Virtual Reality’s Input Problem
This is some exciting news.
What that means for me and you is that Lighthouse puts your body into the virtual world with stunning precision. I tested it and can confirm: holy shit, yes, this really works. Want to reach out and touch something in VR? Lighthouse is how you’ll do it.
Newell explained Valve’s philosophy behind creating Lighthouse as such:
“The first prototype of our hardware has all these retro-reflective dots. That’s great for one person who’s sitting. If you actually want to have ten people in a room moving around, you need something like Lighthouse. So Lighthouse gives you that precision; it’s not specific to the head-mounted display. We also use it for controllers, but you could use it for anything: you could put it on your tablets or your phones. It’s tracking — it happens that VR likes to use tracking and it’s critically dependent on it.”
Lighthouse currently relies on reflective sensors (32 on the prototype I used) to track movement in Valve and HTC’s VR headset, Vive. There are two motion controllers as well that look and feel similar to an ice cream cone (sugar cone, not waffle/cake cones, you monster). The controllers also have sensors, and they show up in VR as visualizations in front of your eyes, as if you were looking down at them in your hands in real life.
I cannot stress enough here how 1:1 that feeling was. Lighthouse tracked the controllers and my head movement to an incredible degree. When I got to close to the walls of the demo room, a virtual grid popped in VR — this is a measure of Lighthouse’s capability. It suddenly made a lot of sense to me why Newell was so bullish on Lighthouse being an industry-changing technology.