Our facial expressions play an important role in spoken communication, so being able to accurately map them onto digital avatars can go a long way in making VR experiences more immersive and enjoyable. To make that happen, HTC has just revealed its new face-tracking accessory for the Vive Pro headset.
Called the VIVE Facial Tracker, the compact device mounts directly under the display assembly of the Vive Pro headset, tracking 38 facial movements across the lips, jaw, teeth, tongue, chin, and cheeks. To ensure excellent accuracy, the tracker includes an infrared illuminator that keeps the user’s mouth well lit in any lighting conditions for the dual cameras to capture small movements at 60 Hz and a tracking latency of less than 10 ms.
The development kit of the VIVE Facial Tracker was first announced in 2019, but regular consumers had to wait until now to experience the wonders of face tracking. When combined with the Tracker and Pro Eye, the tracker is supposed to deliver “the most realistic, accurate, and accessible head-to-toe tracking solution,” according to HTC.
The good news is that all owners of the Vive Pro headset will be able to verify this claim soon because the VIVE Facial Tracker is set to launch on March 24th, priced at $129.99. The Vive Pro headset is used by 2 percent of headset owners on Steam, and it costs $599. A complete face- and body-tracking solution consisting of the headset, the VIVE Facial Tracker, VIVE Trackers, and controllers costs around $2,000.
The use cases for VR face tracking include everything from VR streaming to video conferencing to virtual events. While the global COVID-19 vaccination efforts are slowly but surely turning the tide, experts estimate that many organizations will continue conducting business virtually even after the last social distancing measures have been lifted.