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About HTC Vive software, firmware, middleware


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, This is a rather complex question - I'll only be able to provide a high-level overview - please let me know where you need additional details and I’ll happily provide greater depth.


In short, the desktop version of the Vive is a collaboration between Valve and HTC. It uses a system called SteamVR which is a series of hardware, firmware, and software offerings to create the VR experience. At it’s core, SteamVR has two key components: The tracking system (aka Steam tracking) and the composting system (aka the SteamVR compositor).


SteamVR tracking is an IR based tracking technology. At its core is a set of specialized hardware called basestations/lighthouses and the hardware/firmware which translate the lighthouse signals into coherent data; this specialized firmware/hardware is called the Watchman.

overview of how SteamVR tracking works.


The other major component is the SteamVR compositor which takes all the IO and various render sources and composites them together into a coherent experience.

about how that process works. This video is also overall the best overall compressive overview of how SteamVR works. Developers can target SteamVR in a number of ways, most typically via the SteamSDK (which is downloadable via a plugin or integrated such as you see with UE4 or webXR) or via a subset of that SDK called OpenVR which is a hardware agnostic route into SteamVR.


Lastly, Vive also has a software ecosystem around the hardware. Aside from producing a number of software tools and consumer facing tools, we also have a content store called Viveport. We also have a mobile HMD called the Vive Focus which is not a SteamVR headset but instead uses something called the WaveSDK which works across multiple hardware platforms. 

Overall, it's a really complex ecosystem - if you tell me what you'd like to do, I'll point you the right direction (please watch the above videos first, thanks!). 

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