HTC is gearing up to transform the VR industry with its first standalone room-scale VR headset. Today at its annual Vive Ecosystem Conference, the company announced that the Vive Focus Plus VR headset with motion controllers would be available on April 15 for $799.
The Vive Focus headset has been a long time coming. HTC first revealed plans to build this device in 2017 when it announced that it would participate Google’s Daydream platform. However, later that year the company backed out of its partnership with Google, so the Daydream headset never saw the light of day.
HTC took the development of its standalone VR headset in-house and later revealed the Vive Focus, which featured a Qualcomm SoC architecture and inside-out room-scale tracking. Unfortunately, the untethered, room-scale device was hampered a lack of motion controls. Happily, that’s no longer the case.
6-Degrees of Freedom
The original Vive Focus headset didn’t support 6-degrees of freedom motion controller, but HTC’s recently revealed Vive Focus Plus fixes that shortcoming. The new headset includes a pair of tracked wand controllers that enable you to interact with the virtual world the same way you can with the Vive headset and its wand controllers.
No More Screen Door
Along with the availability announcement, HTC revealed that the new Vive Focus Plus includes all-new Fresnel lenses that significantlyreduce the screen door effect that has plagued VR users since day one.
"With the unveiling of these enhanced features for Vive Focus Plus, the VR industry is moving forward with this new generation of standalone full-fidelity VR devices," said Alvin Wang Graylin, China President, HTC in a prepared statement. "We’re thrilled to be able to feature numerous experiences and use cases at VEC, which showcase the incredible opportunity for Vive Focus Plus and the entire VR category."
Plenty of Content
HTC is marketing the Vive Focus Plus as a tool for developer and enterprise customers, but that hasn’t stopped the company from supporting gaming content on the Vive Focus Plus. HTC said that more than 250 titles currently exist on the Viveport that run natively on the Vive Focus Plus, with many titles that take advantage of the device’s 6-DoF capabilities.
Speaking of taking advantage of 6-DoF tracking, HTC also revealed new technology that enables 6-DoF motion in 360-degree videos. An upcoming version of the Vive Video player will allow users to move up to one-meter within any standard 360-degree video file. We have no idea how this software works, but we’re eager to give it a try.
Multi-Mode Content Sourcing
HTC also revealed that the Vive Focus Plus would include a new multi-mode feature which enables you to access content from almost any device on the Vive Focus Plus headset. HTC didn’t explain how it works, but the company said that the Vive Focus Plus “will be compatible with PC VR, PCs/laptops, smartphones, game consoles, 2D video streaming devices, live 360 camera streaming and upcoming Cloud VR services.”
HTC doesn’t have plans to sell the Vive Focus Plus to the consumer market, but the company is embracing gaming on its standalone product. HTC’s partners showcased a multiplayer VR paintball game that integrates the Vive Focus Plus with a haptic vest to replicate the feeling of a real paintball match.
ModalVR, Nolan Bushnell’s warehouse scale VR venture also attended HTC’s VEC conference and demonstrated a 900 square foot play area that could accommodate up to 40 Vive Focus headsets in a multiplayer experience.
We’ve been waiting more than a year to get our hands on a Vive Focus headset, but thankfully the wait is coming to an end. HTC said the Vive Focus Plus would be available to developers on April 15. The company said the device would initially be available in 25 countries around the world, with support for 19 languages. HTC announced the headset would carry a $799 price tag and it would include an enterprise license at no extra charge in most markets.
No details yet about the company’s next consumer-facing device, the Vive Cosmos.
HTC Vive Focus Plus VR Headset Specs
3K AMOLED (2880x1600)
Field of View
Wi-Fi® 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
File-based (same security as Andriod Smartphone)