GDC 2019: HTC Planning Lip-tracking Module Dev Kit for Vive Pro

Today at GDC, HTC announced plans to make available a lip-tracking module for the Vive Pro. The company says it doesn’t currently have plans to consumerize the device, but instead wants to make it available for research and experimentation.

HTC Vive America’s Vice President of Product and Operations, Vinay Narayan, today at GDC revealed that the company is plans to make available a lip-tracking module for the Vive Pro headset which will accurately gather data about how the user’s mouth is moving. This data could be used for a variety of purposes, like more realistically animating an avatar’s facial expressions in real-time, motion capture recording for NPC animations, or a variety of research uses involving speech, body language, and more.

HTC has revealed very little about the lip-tracking module so far, but we’d venture to guess that it will consist of a camera mounted underneath the Vive Pro visor which faces the user’s mouth. The module could tap the Vive Pro’s hidden USB port for power and data transfer, or could have its own on-board power and communicate to the host PC wirelessly.

Wit the upcoming Vive Pro Eye, a version of the headset with built in eye-tracking, the lip-tracking module would be even more powerful as it, combined with eye-tracking data, could animate both eyes and mouth together, leading to a richer avatar representation.

HTC has said that it doesn’t presently have plans to turn the lip-tracking module into a consumer product, but wants to make it available as a development kit for research and experimentation. The lip-tracking module will tie into a Vive facial tracking SDK that the company will make available.

So far the company hasn’t said when the lip-tracking module or the facial tracking SDK will be released or what the the module might cost.

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