Vive Cosmos is HTC’s newly unveiled PC VR headset that’s slated to release sometime this year. While it’s a tethered device meant to support PCs at launch, HTC teased that it could also be driven by a smartphone.

At its CES 2019 unveiling, a trailer (linked below) prominently showed Cosmos beside the outline of what appears to be an HTC U12+, pointing to the company’s intentions to eventually support mobile devices in addition to PCs.

Afterwards, HTC Vive America GM Dan O’Brien announced that they’d have more to share leading up to Cosmos’ launch, including “the kinds of form-factors it can expand into.”

An HTC spokesperson later confirmed with Road to VR that Vive Cosmos definitely has “additional ambitions” beyond its function as a tethered PC VR headset.

At this point it’s unclear how smartphone connectivity could be handled technically. HTC is staying mum on specs, although we speculate that Cosmos will likely connect to PCs via the VirtualLink connector, a new USB Type-C format that meets the data and power requirements of current and next-generation VR headsets.

Image captured by Road to VR

HTC’s U12+ is a Snapdragon 845 device that supports DisplayPort over its USB-C. It’s not so far-fetched that the company could certify its current and upcoming flagship smartphones to drive the headset’s graphics similar to the way Samsung does with Gear VR. Although less likely, HTC could also certify a wider swath of smartphones from various manufacturers such as Google does with Daydream.

Note: conventional DisplayPort over USB-C can push 4K resolution at 60Hz. Depending upon the final resolution of the headset, which we still don’t know, that could be a higher number.

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HTC: Vive Cosmos is Not a Successor to the Original Vive

Again, HTC hasn’t put any specs on the table at this point, so it’s uncertain if the headset has Wi-Fi connectivity on-board either. However if it does, the company could go an entirely different route by letting smartphones stream VR content via Wi-Fi to Cosmos. That will invariably introduce additional latency, which is a major factor that a more direct connection would mitigate.

Food for thought: HTC Vive Focus already has the ability to stream SteamVR games via VRidge, an Android application supported by HTC which provides similar PC VR streaming functionality to Focus and other mobile headsets.

We’re hoping to learn more about Vive Cosmos in the coming months before dev kits head out in early 2019. Moreover, we still need to try it out, as the company didn’t allow demos at CES 2019.

Update (January 8th, 2019): Antony ‘Skarred Ghost’ Vitillo pointed out to us in the comments that HTC Vive Focus can use a modified version of the VRidge software. We’ve updated to include this, as HTC has seemed to support the software as a semi-official way of playing PC games on Focus.

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  • Darshan

    “company didn’t allow demos at CES 2019.”- Is a cause of ‘fear factor’

    • dk

      why it’s just a headset with inside-out tracking(and optional phone mode) …it’s not that easy to mess up at this point ….the only fear it might cause is that it will take longer than 6 months to come to the market….which doesn’t matter but it’s just annoying when they r announcing things way too early
      ….on the other hand there r demos of the vive pro eye ….and Nina from VRFocus wasn’t blown away by the “accuracy” ….but let’s hope it’s good enough

      • Cuit

        Speaking as a developer of one of the applications that was presented alongside the Vive Pro Eye, the eye tracking is pretty accurate already (biased obviously), and the limitation of it’s accuracy so far is not hardware but software – meaning that until launch the calibration algorithms will continue to be developed to make it even more precise.

        • dk

          I’m worried about it as far as the foveated rendering …if it lags noticeably from time to time it will be annoying …but I guess since they r working with nvidia it will be good enough ….as far as using it for interactions speed/accuracy is not a huge factor there

  • It may also be that it works in conjunction with the HTC U12+ in the same way that the Vive Focus does, by allowing the streaming of the phone contents to the headset

    • dk

      hmmm if that’s what they mean …..that will be sooo stupid …but I wouldn’t put it past them
      having the right phone and most likely not supporting iphones ….the mobile mode will be problematic as far as selling it because of that ….I would really prefer if they really see it as a desktop headset with optional mobile mode

  • Rudl Za Vedno

    HTC just hit a new low. I wouldn’t be surprised if they file for bankruptcy after a few more failed attempts to build decent devices for reasonable price.

  • y_m_o

    Probably only be aimed at HTC phones. Another crafty way to shift more phones. A bit like Z370 motherboards are to Windows10

  • Thanks for the final quote! Actually, some PR from HTC contacted again me to tell me that the smartphone and standard PC connection capabilities will come later on, and at the beginning the headset will be a tethered one. Uhm…