Holy Heckbeans, It’s A HaritoraX!

VR is about to get a whole lot less V and a whole lot more R for this Yak. From a jerry-rigged phone with untracked hands made of other phones (thanks VRidge Riftcat), to 3 point tracking with the Quest 2, to simulated 5 point tracking with Driver4VR – my el-cheapo journey into Virtual Reality has taken one baby step forward at a time. Going the route of Base Stations and Vive Trackers can get pricey. Full body tracking will run you quite a bit. $150 per Base Station (you’d want two) and $130 per Vive Tracker (you’d want three to five) so you’re looking at almost a thousand dollars for a setup that’s aware of your knees, feet, hips, arms, and head. There have been homebrew solutions like SlimeVR – a build it yourself setup with Open Source plans (or you can pre-order and get on the wait list) or Tundra Trackers which are cheaper than Vive Trackers but still need Base Stations and is likewise sold out as of this post.

In steps Shiftall, a Japanese lab reminiscent of Maywa Denki in the sense that they’re making what some might consider to be “silly things”. They’ve developed the HaritoraX, which uses inside-out tracking. What’s that? Well it’s the opposite of outside-in tracking of course! By that I mean that it’s scanning the environment around itself in the same sense as the Quest 2 vs the mounted laser scanners (Base Stations) that watch you from the outside and use trackers as points of reference. The big difference is that this entire tracking system launched for just $270 – that’s less than JUST the Base Stations.

Ok, Downside: So these aren’t really any more available than some of the other solutions right now. In fact, they’re downright hard to find. While they do turn up on eBay once in a while, they can sell for twice as much as the launch price. I’d been watching eBay and Japanese Yahoo Auctions for a few months before I found an unused set for sale at the $300ish mark. I use Buyee when I’m ordering anything from Japan. It gives you a Japanese address and a team of experts that know how to make sure something clears customs for about as cheap as you’re going to get. You decide when your package ships, so you can buy a handful of things, let them pile up, and then ship together to save a bit. After a week and change of impatient waiting, my box arrived from Future-Island. Things couldn’t be that simple though – USPS refused delivery (my house is “not safe” so they tell me). In trying to track it down and figure out what was next, I discovered that USPS has invested time and money into giving you choices of hold music. (I pressed 2)

Look at those sleek, futuristic, laser-emitting chunks of physical CyberPunk. Is it unobtrusive? Hell no. This thing is strappier than a late 90s raver outfit. Straps, clips, even ethernet cables hold this conglomeration together. Assembled, calibrated, and running pretty damn well. It’s more comfortable than it looks!

Some lessons learned while trying this out:

  • Calibrating the HaritoraX from inside VR involves pulling both triggers together five times back to back while standing upright with your hands at your sides, then repeating in the squat position with your head facing down and forward. When you first calibrate from within their software you’ll see the exact positions, but from then on you can calibrate from within your VR App.
  • Do the magnetic recalibration. This involves pressing button two (next to the power button) and the power button together to boot it (while perfectly still). Once the green light stops flashing pick up the whole pile and move it through the air in a figure-eight for three full minutes. Power back down and restart with just the power button
  • Make sure your Bluetooth receiver is in direct line of sight of your body at all times. I have mine on the end of a USB extension cable, in plain sight in the room where I spend my time in VR. When it was behind my computer that itself was behind an entertainment center, it just could not see the unit well enough to use it.
  • For ankle detection to work properly you will need to make sure that the lowest HaritoraX units are close enough to your feet, and that know cuffs or anything like the tongue on a shoe is in the way of the scanners on the lower units.
  • Make sure it’s all nice and snug, then go have a ball in VR with your new-found functionality. Sit, kneel, dance, kick, lay-the-heck-down, whatever you couldn’t do as a torso is now open to you.

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