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November 18th, 2022

Inside Out VS Outside In Tracking

Regarding virtual reality devices, there are two ways that tracking can be done. One is called the “Inside Out” method, while the other is called “Outside In.” We are going to discuss what each method represents and what are their benefits and flaws.

What is Inside Out Tracking?

In simple terms, inside-out tracking is a method of tracking that uses cameras built into the frontal portion of a VR headset. With inside-out tracking, there is no need to set up external base stations on the walls which is a huge cost & convenience benefit.

How Does Inside-Out Tracking Work?

As you move around while wearing the headset, the cameras will take into account your position before and after the movement, and render it inside the headset accordingly.

This tracking method really stands out because headsets that have it can easily be used nearly anywhere, and you can relocate your play area wherever you want. The only limit is that there needs to be enough light in the room, which is also something that Outside In tracking requires.

Inside Out tracking does come at the cost of some processing power in the headsets that have it, as that processing power could be used on something else if there was another piece of hardware that would process the movement. However, even with that negative in mind, it does make a feature like hand-tracking available without any additional gadgets.

Pros

  • You can use the headset wherever you desire
  • No need to fiddle with base stations and additional hardware
  • Decent hand tracking without additional hardware

Cons

  • Some processing power is lost on tracking that could be utilized for something else
  • Some delays may be noticed in games that push the system to its limits
  • Tracking may be inaccurate sometimes.
  • Lack of robust full body tracking options

What is Outside In Tracking?

Outside in tracking is the opposite of inside-out tracking and it is when VR tracking is aided by devices that are separated from the headset, with base stations or different trackers. 

Many would assume that this technology is a bit outdated, as having to use base stations can be very annoying as it requires some planning in your room by making sure that there is nothing in their way, that they are in the correct location, and that you will have to use a dedicated area for VR.

However, despite all of those flaws, there are some advantages to this method, and they are in the form of accuracy and lower latency. Those who wish to have an improved experience for 360 tracking or superb full-body tracking can always get additional base stations and tracking devices, which is amazing for immersion, especially for content creators.

Pros

  • Superior full body tracking
  • Most accurate tracking
  • Low latency in tracking movement
  • Option to improve tracking with additional stations or trackers

Cons

  • Fixed location where you can play in VR without recalibrating or moving the base stations
  • You need to make sure that nothing is blocking the view of the base stations

Inside Out Vs Outside In Tracking – Which One Is Better?

Both methods of tracking have their advantages and disadvantages, and when it comes to the question of which one is better, the answer will usually depend on what and where you are planning to use the headset.

Those who live in smaller apartments where they cannot provide appropriate locations for base stations definitely want to go with an Inside Out tracking system like the Oculus Quest 2, while those who have a lot of space might want to go for an Outside In systems like HTC Vive, Valve Index, or some other headset with this type of tracking.

If you want to play games on a very high level, where accuracy and low delay are very important to you, then an Outside In method is advised. This is especially the case for those who play Beat Saber custom Expert+ maps on a competitive level, as Inside Out tracking is known to struggle at that level of play.

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