HTC Vive is SteamVR, a virtual reality headset set to change the market entirely
During Mobile World Congress, HTC revealed that it’s partnered up with Valve to bring an entirely new VR experience to the world: HTC Vive.
While the situation that led to the partnership is unclear, the Vive VR headset is the SteamVR headset we learnt about last week. It’s most likely that HTC is providing parts and manufacturing the device, while Valve provided the technology and a delivery platform with SteamOS. Whatever the case is, it’s clear that this is a seriously ambitious project.
While the likes of Oculus Rift or Project Morpheus work by tracking a user’s head movements while requiring an input device for movement, Vive doesn’t. It also doesn’t seem to be a competitor to Samsung’s Gear VR, instead positioning itself as a completely new piece of VR technology.
Using similar technology to that of the Oculus Crystal Cove prototype that Valve helped Oculus VR develop, the HTC Vive seems to be able to track the entire room, not just a user’s head movements. This means that it can track where someone is standing in a room and mirror their movements inside that space into the game itself.
HTC’s Jeff Gattis stated the HTC Vive will offer a fast 90Hz refresh rate with 360-degree views. We’re assuming that this means the screen is wrap around, enveloping your range of vision and creating a sense of full visual immersion.
According to a press release from HTC, the Vive promises a “full room-scale” experience for virtual reality, “letting you get up, walk around and explore your virtual space, inspect objects from every angle and truly interact with your surroundings”.
Apparently you’ll be able to interact with objects via a pair of HTC controllers made for manipulating objects, firing weapons and really doing anything and everything you need them to do. It sounds like a similar idea to Sony’s Project Morpheus VR headset, as that pairs up with PlayStation Move so users can interact with their environment.
Gattis also claimed that the Vive is “really light, you can wear it for a long time without feeling weighed down,” something that can’t be said of the Oculus Rift or Project Morpheus. This implies that Vive’s processing and power supply aren’t contained within the device itself. Obviously, that raises some questions as to how it’s powered and if it’s wireless. The screengrab above suggests it’s currently wired, but for a device that promotes the idea of totally free movement and interaction, it’s a little odd that it requires you to be tethered down.
Putting all the technical wizardry aside, the most impressive thing about HTC Vive is the production timescale it’s on. HTC and Valve are promising developers units for development by Spring this year. If that wasn’t enough, a consumer version of Vive is set to hit shelves by the end of 2015, making this a significant threat to the still-in-production Oculus Rift – especially if Valve pushes the Vive heavily alongside Steam Machines and its own distribution platform Steam.
More information surrounding Vive will come later in the week as developers and videogame press get to go hands on with the device at GDC 2015, so expect more information from us soon.
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