HTC may be teasing the release of a VR lip tracker for Vive headsets

Technology

HTC may be teasing new modules and attachments for its Vive virtual reality headsets, including a lip tracker, UploadVR reports.

HTC’s been building up to some kind of announcement on its Vive Twitter account over the last week. Yesterday, it posted an image of a hinge, which savvy Twitter users matched to an experimental lip tracking module HTC announced at the Game Developers Conference in 2019.

At the time, the company said it was using the module for research and experimentation, according to Road to VR. Combined with the eye tracking HTC’s already integrated into the Vive Pro Eye, it offers an early picture of what full face tracking looks like in VR. Some developers have gotten their hands on that earlier version of the lip tracker and integrated into social VR apps like NeosVR.

Hand, face, and eye tracking features play a large part in making avatars move and appear “natural” in VR. The HTC Vive and Oculus Rift and Quest headsets already offer hand tracking as a control method, but face tracking (enabled by an attachment or eventually new headset designs) could prove to be a boon in social VR settings.

Facebook was already experimenting with face tracking for Oculus headsets in 2019, UploadVR reports. In a recent interview, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also reiterated how important realistic avatars — animated with face and eye tracking — are to his vision of the future of VR.

HTC hasn’t actually confirmed that it’s releasing a version of its lip tracking module to the public. But either way, getting comfortable with headsets sensing you as much as they do your surroundings seems like it’s in the cards for VR enthusiasts.