TECH NEWS – Gabe Newell’s company quickly had to update SteamVR, as the system was unable to keep up with the players.
Steam released the 1.3.2 update’s patch notes of the SteamVR beta on February 8, which is effectively released due to Beat Saber. This game is similar to Rock Band or Guitar Hero but without plastic musical equipment, and the VR title made PC players too fast for SteamVR!
The patch notes have a sentence: „Increase limits of what we thought was humanly possible for controller motion based on tracking data from Beat Saber experts.” It’s not a joke! Beat Saber‘s players were too fast to be properly tracked, and Ben Jackson, a Valve dev, had to give a technical explanation for this scenario: „The tracking system has internal sanity checks to identify when things go wrong. For example, if our math says you are *behind* your only base station, clearly we made a mistake because we wouldn’t be getting any signal from behind the base station. One of these checks relates to how fast we thought it was physically possible for someone to turn their wrist. It turns out that a properly motivated human using a light enough controller could go faster (3600 degrees/sec!) than we thought.”
VR controllers tend to have two tracking technologies. One of them, IMU, is in each of them – the rotation and translation are sensed with low latency and a high frequency, but it could „drift” away, causing inaccuracy. Thus, external base stations are needed – as with SteamVR – to establish the absolute position and rotation of the tracked object, correcting the IMU irregularity. Beat Saber comes into the picture because it doesn’t give enough time for tracking systems to predict the upcoming movements, causing reverse directions on higher levels of the game.
It sounds complicated, but if you look at the video below, you can imagine how the issues could arise if you are too fast for SteamVR…