HTC has decided to jump on the extreme developer advocacy bandwagon with the newest addition to the Vive family by offering 1,000 Vive Tracker units to qualified developers for free, so long as those developers are willing to give them back when HTC comes knocking. The application seems to only be open to business entities, leaving indie developers out in the cold. The application asks for things like the company name, and exactly what the company plans to do with the unit, including some details on the project that they want to use it for. According to the application page, those with a clear plan for how they will use their free Vive Tracker stand the best chance of getting their hands on one, free of charge and long before they're officially released.
For those that didn't get a chance to see or read about them while CES 2017 was going on, the Vive Tracker is, for the most part, exactly what it sounds like. The Tracker gives Vive the ability to track the positions, movement, and attributes of real-world objects. While the consumer uses are pretty obvious, the device is actually targeted at developers, allowing them to more easily create peripherals for use in VR environments, as well as using real objects as a basis for VR objects. Paired with a special accelerometer, developers can turn almost any object into a controller. This means that virtual gunslinging with realistic-feeling guns, swinging around a weighted sword handle to fell digital foes, and even using a real cat toy to play with pixelated kitties are all possible, with the only real limits being a developer's creativity and budget.
Applications are open until February 7. Companies have until then to plan out ideas, put together demos and concept art if they so wish, and get their applications sent out. With only 1,000 units to go around, HTC says that they are looking for the most creative, quirky ideas to help keep VR moving forward and really demonstrate the unique power of their new device. They have not yet stated when developers will receive their units, or if there is a set time limit to how long developers will have them for.