HTC on a quest to bring VR to masses with revamped Vive headset

5 Jan 2016

HTC has redesigned its Vive VR headset with improved ergonomics and a front camera to bring the real-world into the VR world

At CES 2016, HTC has taken the next step in bringing VR to the masses with a new headset called the Vive Pre that has been redesigned with improved ergonomics and comes with a front camera to bring the real-world into the virtual reality world.

HTC’s Vive headsets, developed in collaboration with Valve, are scheduled for mass launch in April and both companies said they will be making an additional 7,000 units available to developers.

The new headset, entitled the Vive Pre, has been redesigned from the ground up to increase the sense of immersion in virtual worlds.

‘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’

The headset is more compact and comes with a new strap design that hinges around greater stability and balance.

A new visual system guarantees brighter displays and increased clarity.

2016 will be the year of VR, with manufacturers from Oculus to Sony, Samsung and Microsoft bringing out new headsets.

Real world meets virtual world

A front-facing camera has been added to bring elements of the real world into the VR realm, blending physical elements into the virtual space, for example, you can continue playing while you find your seat, drink or carry on conversations.

The Vive’s controllers have also been overhauled to feature greater ergonomics, softer edges, better grip pads and a new dual-stage trigger that provides haptic feedback.

The controllers also feature integrated rechargeable lithium polymer batteries with a micro-USB charging port that provides four hours of runtime on a single charge.

HTC has also redesigned the base stations for the Vive to be more compact and quieter.

7,000 extra Vive headsets for developers

The HTC Vive will be the first VR hardware to support SteamVR and HTC and Valve have worked with thousands of developers to create VR content and tools for sectors from entertainment to automotive, retail and education.

Ahead of its launch in April, HTC will make 7,000 additional Vive headsets available to developers.

At CES 2016, which is taking place in Las Vegas until 9 January, HTC and more than 15 Vive partners are showcasing a variety of VR apps. For example, car manufacturer Audi has also created a premium retail experience for its cars, as well as revealing it will use VR in future product design.

“When we first announced Vive 10 months ago we had an ambitious goal of fundamentally changing the way people communicate and interact with the world – forever,” said Cher Wang, chairwoman and CEO of 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.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years