Inside-Out vs Outside-In VR Tracking: The Ultimate Guide

In this ultimate guide, we take a look at inside-out vs outside-in VR tracking. Learn about how each method keeps track of your headset movement and position and the pros and cons of each.

Head tracking method is one of the biggest factors in determining which VR headset to buy. Our VR Headset Comparison Tool shows you some other important factors to compare.

Let’s dive in!

Outside-In VR Tracking?

outside-in vr tracking

Outside-in tracking in virtual reality happens an external device watches your headset in real-time. The HTC has its base stations as the outside-in tracker. The original Oculus Rift and Playstation VR come with their own positional trackers too. This is the original method for VR position tracking.

These base stations sit in a fixed location and record your headset’s position multiple times per second. You calibrate your base stations when you set up your VR headset.

As you move your head around in virtual reality, the outside-in tracker helps readjust the position of your game in real time.

You can install multiple base stations to improve tracking in full 360 degrees.

Pros

  • The highest level of accuracy
  • Low latency in tracking movement
  • Able to improve accuracy with multiple trackers

Cons

  • Cannot change where you play your VR headset without recalibrating.
  • Need to be aware of objects in the path of your base station (occlusion)

VR Headsets with Outside-In Tracking

  1. Oculus Rift CV1
  2. HTC Vive (all models)
  3. Playstation VR
  4. Valve Index
  5. Pimax (all models)
htc vive pro eye
The HTC Vive uses outside-in VR tracking with external base stations

Inside-Out VR Tracking

inside-out vr tracking

Inside-out tracking takes place completely inside your VR headset. Cameras installed facing outward from the headset keep track of your position and movement in real-time.

As you move around, the cameras take into account your before and after positions and render the image in your headset accordingly.Inside-out tracking cameras do a good job of tracking your nearby body and hand movements. This has enabled features such as hand tracking on the Oculus Quest.

Outside-in VR tracking cannot perform hand tracking in the same way because it is watching a much wider general area.

Pros

  • You can use your VR headset wherever you want
  • No need to install external sensors in your room

Cons

  • VR tracking is done in the headset, which takes up processing power that could be used for something else
  • Tracking is not as accurate

VR Headsets with Inside-Out Tracking

  1. Oculus Quest
  2. Oculus Rift S
  3. HP Reverb G1 & G2
  4. Samsung Odyssey+
oculus quest
The Oculus Quest uses inside-out VR tracking

Inside-Out vs Outside-In: Which VR Tracking Method is Better?

outside-in vs inside-out vr tracking

For commercial virtual reality applications, outside-in tracking is the most accurate solution. Base station tracking happens separate from the headset and position data is communicated back to the PC on its own. Your movement is tracked in real time and you will have the most seamless VR experience.

For personal or casual virtual reality applications, inside-out tracking is good enough right now. Most users will not notice any latency or inaccuracy in motion or position. Inside-out VR tracking is still in its first generation and will improve as technology becomes better. Plus, not requiring any external base stations makes your install more flexible and keeps your costs down.

In the next few years, augmented reality glasses will be released by Apple and other major companies. These glasses will utilize inside-out technology, which will drive further improvements in augmented and virtual reality.

What do you think is the best VR tracking method?

Comment down below and let us know if you agree with us or not!

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