CES 2016: HTC announces updates to Vive VR headset
Vive Pre comes with updated design and front-facing camera
HTC has used the first day of this year's Consumer Electronics Show to announce updates for its still-in-development Vive virtual reality (VR) headset.
The update comes in the form of the Vive Pre, an in-between product intended for developers that will go out ahead of a planned public launch of the final device in April this year. The Vive Pre expands on the original Vive headset concept that was unveiled last year, and features a more compact design and a front-facing camera.
"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" said 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."
The Pre features an improved visual system with brighter displays and image refinements for increased clarity, and an even deeper sense of presence, according to HTC. And on the inside, interchangeable foam inserts and nose gaskets mean the Vive Pre fits comfortably and securely to the user.
But the big news is that front-facing camera, which will provide users with an outwards view of the real world so that they can complete tasks without having to take the headset off.
The Vive Pre's controllers have also been updated over the original Vive concept, with HTC claiming updated ergonomics and softer edges, greater balance, new textured buttons and grip pads.
The HTC Vive will be the first VR hardware to support SteamVR. Created by Valve, Steam VR tracking and the Chaperone system are optimised for use with Steam, one of the largest online platforms for PC, Linux and Mac games and software.
HTC said that 7,000 Vive Pre units will be shipped to developers. Whether the company meets its self-imposed deadline of an April launch, however, remains to be seen: The Vive was originally meant to launch late last year, but at the last minute, the company held back - presumably to add the front-facing camera.