Oculus VR chief technology officer John Carmack revealed in a tweet that he is spending most of his time on developing position tracking for Samsung's Gear VR virtual reality headset.
Position tracking will allow a virtual reality headset to trace where the wearer is in the physical world and when the wearer is making any movements. The addition of such a feature would be a huge improvement for the Gear VR, as it currently is only able to detect when the wearers turn their heads.
With position tracking capabilities for a virtual reality headset, developers will be able to use the feature to place users in environments that they will be seeing through their devices. The users can then move around in real life to move within the virtual reality environment, with no need for the virtual reality headset to be connected by wires to a PC.
Motion sickness is one among several problems that wearers could experience while wearing a virtual reality headset, if their head is turning on a single axis and they are moving within the virtual environment but their body remains stationary. This is why finding a solution to properly implement position tracking is such an important goal for virtual reality as an industry, as with it, users will be able to merge their movements in real life with the movements they make virtually.
The problem so far is that position tracking, in its current form for virtual reality headsets, drains too much power and causes overheating issues. Dozens of experts have been hired by Oculus to work on the solution, but with Carmack's tweet, it appears that the company's head tech expert has taken on the quest himself.
@vessenes I still think it is important, but with most of my time on position tracking for GearVR, I haven't touched it in months.
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) February 8, 2016
HTC's Vive virtual reality headset employs something similar, though it requires users to set up a pair of towers so that the system can monitor the user's location within a given space. If position tracking can be solved though, users will no longer need to set up towers and would theoretically be able to enter virtual reality environments anywhere.
Carmack's work on the Gear VR is joined in recent news by Samsung's planned unveiling of the Gear 360 VR camera on Feb. 21 alongside the Galaxy S7. The Gear 360 VR is a spherical camera which will be able to record 360-degree images through its pair of 180-degree fisheye lenses.