Enlarge / Only two base stations? P’shaw. Next year, SteamVR will let developers do way more with four. (credit: Valve)
Every major virtual reality platform has its pros and cons at this point, but one of SteamVR’s clear leads is space. Right now, owners of the HTC Vive can set up two of its infrared-powered “base stations” and move, dance, shoot, sculpt, and adventure around a maximum of 132 square feet—assuming you have that much to spare in your den or basement, anyway.
But as more commercial groups (from arcades to industrial design firms) bite on VR’s most extreme use possibilities, Steam’s VR design side has clearly been working to give them more extreme floor space to work with. On Tuesday, the company hinted at an eventual SteamVR 2.0 product by announcing quite a leap in scope: nearly 10 times the square footage.
The catch is that the entire SteamVR pipeline must be upgraded to take advantage of this jump, including new “SteamVR Tracking 2.0” base stations that will begin rolling out to developers at the start of 2018.

Developers will need to test these tracking boxes with head-mounted displays (HMDs) that are compatible with the new trackers’ standard, dubbed TS4321—meaning, not the HTC Vive currently on store shelves. These tracking boxes work the same as the original infrared-crazy base stations, and they add support for “modulated light carrier input.”
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