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Carmack Confirms Inside-Out Tracking for Mobile VR, Won’t Hit Gear VR

The Samsung Gear VR head-mounted display (HMD), created in conjunction with Oculus VR has been on the market for a while now, becoming a runaway success for the mobile manufacturer. The device hasn’t just adopted by consumers but also businesses and institutions the world over as one of the best ways to experience virtual reality (VR). But the headset does lack several features its bigger brother the Oculus Rift has, with the biggest being positional-tracking. And in a series of tweets by Oculus CTO John Carmack today that feature may not be coming to the HMD anytime soon.

Consumer Gear VR 1

The Oculus Rift’s positional-tracking is achieved by a separate camera that monitors various points on the headset using infrared. As the Gear VR runs off a Samsung smartphone there’s no external camera to monitor its position, meaning standing up, crouching, leaning forward and other full body movements aren’t monitored. All you get is head-tracking through the smartphones gyroscope.

So Oculus VR has been working on inside-out tracking using a phones camera to pinpoint objects in the real world to use as markers. Unfortunately its very difficult to achieve, which Carmack has taken to Twitter to divulge.

In the series of tweets the CTO said: “My inside-out position tracking freaks out if I jump up in the air and land hard. Exercise while debugging!”

“All of the inside-out position tracking work being done at Oculus is targeting dedicated cameras, not using the built in cell phone camera.”

“Possible to do quality tracking with a cell phone camera while looking at a marker, but propagating scale across natural features is hard.”

“In other words, don’t expect general purpose position tracking to show up as a software-update feature for existing GearVR systems.”

So at present anyone who was hoping an update would fix the positional-tracking problem will be left disappointed. Oculus VR is still working on a solution it seems, it just won’t be very forthcoming.

VRFocus will continue its coverage of Oculus VR and Gear VR, reporting back any new updates.