Update: According to one of the Steam community members, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Shylkur states,
“Looks like the post has been changed, since it’s in all likelihood was answered by someone without sufficient technical understanding. Presuming the firmware is the same (based on the HDK) Which Valve Controls (not HTC) , the tracker should most certainly work without an HMD *if* you bind it to a steam dongle and change the (appropriate) configuration file for SteamVR to not require the HMD. This is a day 0 SteamVR configruation value; it’s not new. Additionally you can buy the steam dongle(s) from inside the Steam app. Hope that calms some of the Panic.”
HTC is about to make ordinary objects come alive in the virtual world with the Vive Tracker. The peripheral device will be able to bring physical objects into the virtual space with specialized tracking. This will in fact, make a VR experience more immersive, allowing us to hold familiar objects in the VR space. For instance, if you were playing an FPS game you can attach the device to a toy gun and use it in the virtual world. This will allow users to be immersed beyond the sense of sight and actually immerse them trough the feel of touch.
While consumers wait in anticipation for the peripheral device, a user by the name of tsoomoo asked HTC the following:
“We wanted to test VIVE tracker on our Television Virtual set. We wanted to try using Vive tracker with UE4 camera, by buying only Vive tracker + 2 Base stations first without buying Vive pack. Is it possible to only use 2 Base stations, with Vive tracker? Will they work together, without Vive headset, controller?”
An HTC representative replied by saying that “you do need to have the HMD to use the tracker or the controllers normally.”
There may be individuals who find this quite surprising as HTC is all about cross-platform compatibility. HTC wants to build an ecosystem where we can share VR experience across multiple platforms. But it makes logical sense as the Vive Tracker is an OEM product from HTC.
Currently, the HTC Vive bundle is offered at $799. A Vive tracker is sold separately at $99 a piece. If you are wanting two or more of the peripheral device, the tally will exceed $1,000, which is quite expensive for an everyday consumer.
It should be noted that the Vive Tracker isn’t currently available to the public. It’ll initially be shipped out on March 27th to select developers. Consumers will have access to the trackers later this year.