Virtual reality headsets are steadily improving and Valve has shared a significant breakthrough that will be making its way to SteamVR 2.0 within the next year. The tracking system used for Valve's virtual reality platform will be able to detect user input covering nearly 1,100 square feet of floor space using four base stations.
Valve states that at launch in early 2018, SteamVR 2.0 will be limited to using two base stations but plans to expand to four base stations to reach the maximum coverage. The company is looking into the possibility of supporting more than four base stations but isn't yet sharing details.
Compared to the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, the SteamVR 2.0 is leaps and bounds ahead in usable tracking area. The Vive is rated for use in a 15 x 15-foot space while the Rift is good for use within an 8 x 8 -foot area if three tracking sensors are used. A massive increase from the first generation SteamVR's 11.5 feet squared limit gives Valve a lot more room for development and gameplay.
The improvements are partly thanks to a new ASIC chip. Unfortunately for existing HTC Vive owners, the new TS4231 sensor used is responsible for much of the range increase and will not be able to provide any benefit for older Vive owners. Valve is currently only accepting bulk orders of 45 or more base stations at a price of $60 each plus shipping with shipping expected in early 2018.