HTC has taken the wraps off its "big technological breakthrough" in virtual reality, with the announcement of Vive Pre, its second-generation VR hardware for developers.
Vive Pre builds on the first iteration of the Steam VR-powered system with a revamped, smaller headset, improved visuals and a new controller design. And Vive Pre also brings a major new hardware addition to the headset — a front-facing camera.
The new Vive Pre headset is lighter and less bulky than the previous incarnation, with improved straps and interchangeable foam inserts to help it fit a greater variety of faces. Vive's visual clarity has also been improved, thanks to a display tech upgrade that brings brighter screens and smoother motion.
The new headset also packs a front-facing camera, which in the current demos is used as part of the "chaperone" system. Vive can now highlight real-world objects in the virtual world, allowing you to interact with objects or other people, or avoid hitting or tripping over obstacles.
Vive can now highlight real-world objects in the virtual world.
Vive's new controllers feature a more ergonomic design with grippy areas, new two-stage triggers and softer edges. Meanwhile, the inclusion of haptic feedback should allow Vive Pre users to move around and interact with things in the virtual world more easily. The new controllers charge over microUSB, and can provide up to four hours of use per charge, HTC says.
While Vive missed its original launch window of late 2015, HTC now says the product will launch commercially in April. The company is also ramping up its partnership efforts at CES 2016, with 15 partners showing off their Vive applications in Las Vegas this week. Even more developers are set to get their hands on the kit, as HTC prepares to make 7,000 Vive Pre units available to devs at the start of this year.
HTC RESHAPES HUMAN IMAGINATION WITH INSPIRING VIRTUAL REALITY
HTC unveils Vive Pre, its second-generation developer edition VR system, featuring an all-new front facing camera and room-scale technology
New partners announced at the show brings VR to a broader spectrum of applications and consumers
Las Vegas, January 5, 2016 – HTC, a pioneer in innovative smart technologies, today announced new developments to the Vive VR system that represent the next step in bringing virtual reality to a mass-market. With Vive Pre, HTC is fulfilling the promise of creating fully immersive experiences that change how we communicate, how we are entertained, and how we learn and train. Each and every component has been redesigned from the ground up to provide better comfort, ergonomics, and performance. With milestone improvements in both visuals and versatility, Vive Pre creates a world without limits.
"When we first announced Vive ten months ago we had an ambitious goal of fundamentally changing the way people communicate and interact with the world - forever" comments Cher Wang, chairwoman and CEO, HTC. "Since then Vive has received a phenomenally positive reception from media, industry commentators, consumers, and the hundreds of partners and brands we've been working with to deliver inspiring and dynamic VR content. For too long, the promise of virtual reality has been little more than a promise. Today we stand on the precipice of a new era. Vive is creating a world where the only limit is human imagination."
** Become immersed with the new Vive Headset**
The refreshed design of the Vive headset has been refined to offer greater comfort to the wearer, increasing the sense of immersion in the virtual worlds it creates. The headset is now more compact and features an updated strap design that provides greater stability and balance. An improved visual system with brighter displays and image refinements leads to increased clarity, and an even deeper sense of presence. On the inside, interchangeable foam inserts and nose gaskets mean the Vive Pre fits comfortably and securely to the user. Vive Pre can also be easily adjusted to suit a variety of facial shapes while remaining compatible with a variety of eyeglasses.
**Integrated front facing camera merges the physical and virtual **
Vive Pre brings elements of the real world into the VR realm. A newly developed front facing camera allows you to do more both inside and outside your Virtual world by blending physical elements into the virtual space. Being able to take a seat, find your drink, and carry on conversations without removing your headset is only the beginning of what's possible.
Completing the VR experience, the Vive's controllers have been overhauled and enhanced with updated ergonomics and softer edges, greater balance, new textured buttons, and grip pads for a more comfortable feel in the hand. The new dual stage trigger makes interaction with objects smoother, and haptic feedback delivers vital feedback about your interactions with the virtual world. For power, the controllers now feature integrated rechargeable lithium polymer batteries with micro-USB charging that provides over 4 hours of runtime on a single charge.
The Vive base stations have also been redesigned to be more compact, quieter, and provide improved tracking.
The HTC Vive will be the first VR hardware to support SteamVR. Created by Valve, Steam VR tracking and the Chaperone system are optimized for use with Steam, one of the largest online platforms for PC, Linux and Mac games and software.
Shaping the Virtual Reality Industry
Since announcing Vive, HTC and Valve have worked with thousands of developers and partners to create VR content across a wide spectrum of sectors; from gaming and entertainment to health, automotive, retail and education. HTC and over 15 Vive partners will be showcasing VR applications at CES 2016, demonstrating the potential of a world without limits on imagination. Leading automotive manufacturer Audi has created a premium retail experience where consumers can explore their dream car with virtual reality, and Dassault Systemes, the 3DEXPERIENCE company, will showcase how it is developing the future of 3D product design in VR. HTC is also showcasing a new brand for Vive at CES 2016.
While Vive is scheduled for commercial launch in April 2016, HTC and Valve will be starting the new year by making an additional 7,000 units available to developers.