What is PrioVR?
A huge difference between the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift is full-scale room tracking. When in the Vive, you hold two Wands that act as hands — they are tracked, like your head, no matter where you go in your play area. Walk around, duck, jump — it's all tracked.
The Rift, on the other hand, is right now a mainly seated experience. Your head motion is tracked, but you use a gamepad or keyboard and mouse to move. This will change when Oculus releases their Touch controllers, reportedly sometime this year.
Let's be honest — the Touch controllers look great. The inclusion of joysticks and two classic A / B buttons on each controller should make those people who dislike the Vive's touchpad very happy. And, of course, having your hands tracked in-game is going to change the entire Rift experience.
The problem, however, is that the Touch controllers are rumored to only support about 270-degree room tracking unless you buy extra sensors. Even then, it's hard to say whether or not four sensors around your room are going to work well together.
This is currently only a rumor and conjecture — only upon the Touch controllers' release will we know for sure how motion tracking works. So far, though, demonstrations of the Touch controllers have shown two sensors at the front of the room. If tracking is limited to about 270-degrees, many Rift users will be left wanting more.
Enter PrioVR. Originally funded by Kickstarter back in 2014, they've worked through several versions of their product to come up with the current design known as PrioVR Pro. You essentially put on a "suit" covered in inertial sensors and step into your game. Because the sensors use inertia, there are no extra cameras or sensors to place around your room.
You get full, 360-degree motion tracking in an unlimited amount of space, and there are no wires to hold you back. Imagine renting out a warehouse and running around a level of a game? The warehouse scenario isn't exactly realistic, but those of you with a large room to play in will have a ton of fun.
PrioVR Pro also comes with two wireless hand controllers that let you walk around the game world, essential for those of you with limited play space. Every movement you make with your legs, arms, torso, and head is tracked — the immersion level is really second to none.
PrioVR and Oculus Rift
What does this mean for Rift users? Full motion tracking! Imagine street fighting games where you can kick, punch, and feint. Imagine shooters where you're dodging incoming fire and ducking behind cover. Being able to insert your entire body into a game is really the current pinnacle of VR immersion.
If the Rift's Touch controllers do happen to not support 360-degree room-scale tracking, PrioVR could be an interesting option for anyone who is set on achieving that level of immersion. Fans of the Rift might not want to switch over to the HTC Vive, either because of price or preference, and even then the motion tracking isn't as complete as with PrioVR.
The one downside of PrioVR is the price — it starts at about $1200. This isn't for everyone, but anyone already considering getting a Vive for the motion tracking feature might consider saving a few more dollars (OK, quite a few more dollars) to get a PrioVR instead.
What do you think of PrioVR? Is it something you'd consider adding to your VR setup, whether with a Rift or a Vive? Let us know in the comments section below!