TrackIR 5 is a motion tracking device that captures your head movement. It serves as a kind of joystick to control your head movement in many supporting games.
It’s actually quite interesting and awesome, but of course you need to get used to it in the beginning: While you move your head, you still need to focus your eyes onto the screen. This makes it a kind of compromise between a full-blown virtual reality helmet (which many of us avidly wait for), and not having an extra viewing device at all.
An advantage over full VR helmets is the price tag. The TrackIR 5 is affordable for the typical simracer. I guess this will remain an advantage, even when the VR helmets are released.
Summary for the busy
It’s a nice device that is definitely worth a try, especially because it is (and will be) cheaper than fully-fledged VR helmets and it fits your racing rig in any case, unlike a multiscreen solution. But even with a multiscreen setup, you may want to take a look.
Some exceptions may become motion sick or not become familiar with the head/track-discorrespondence. However, this is something you have to test yourself.
The TrackIR and some options are available at Amazon.
Detailed Review of TrackIR V5
The latency is really low, actually so low that I had a hard time feeling any latency at all.
Additionally, it was so precise that I got sick at times, because the slightest movement resulted in action; however, the device comes with a really nice configurator, where you can customize every aspect of it, including things like
- degrees of freedom
Smoothing may increase latency, but if you’re not like Butters from South Park on a permament caffeine overdose, a really low smoothing factor should satisfy your needs.
Funnily, I liked being able to look into the sky during races, giving my eyes some kind of virtual relaxation.
Configuration & Intuition
You should try out whether you want your virtual TrackIR’ed head to move left or up when you move your real head left or up, or if you like it mirrored. I found it more intuitive when it was mirrored, because then my real eyes (in relation to the head) looked right or up when my virtual head was looking right or up, too.
As per this official page, there are 169 supported games at the time of writing. Have a look there. The most popular racing games and sims are in and support the TrackIR V5 tracker.
Is it for you?
Personally, I loved the device, especially in Oval Racing where you often race in inhuman packs, with people left and right to you, behind you, in front of you, and often enough above (or below) you.
However, my bloody body got a bit motion sick sometimes. Means? Michael Schumacher had one big disadvantage during his comeback, namely he got motion sick in simulators. Combine to this the drastic limits on real track testing nowadays’ Formula 1 teams are allowed to execute, and that nobody else was known to be motion sick, and you have a legend driver with a huge handicap. Earlier in his career, Schumacher excelled at real track testing, so all in all, I don’t think it was a bad comeback at all.
But I got off-topic, sorry. The root of this motion sickness is that with the TrackIR 5, your head movement does no longer correspond with your eye movement, and moreso, the body’s orientation does not correspond to the travel direction of your car; a bit like when your sitting sideways in some train.
This kind of motion sickness is a bit different from Schumacher’s, but they are still both about misexpectations in the end.
In the end, nothing is left than to try out the TrackIR head tracker for a few days, which I highly recommend. Probably you’re not motion sick. It will be very funny for you to have an additional controller based on an otherwise unused part of your body.
- 2019-04-09: fixed formatting
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- Mobility 88/10
- Configuration 88/10
- Compatibility (w.r.t. racers) 99/10
- Latency 99/10
- Tracking Price/Value 99/10