While the HTC Vive’s room-scale VR experience is one of the best available today, the device itself still needs to undergo a significant metamorphosis from development kit to consumer-ready product. Details about exactly what changes we’ll see in the consumer device have been slim but we’ve gleaned new info from HTC.
The Vive Developer Edition system provides an impressive experience, but it isn’t quite ready for the consumer market. Speaking with HTC’s Brian Lowe, Executive Producer working on VR content, Road to VR has learned about design changes coming to the consumer HTC Vive which is set to launch in Q4 of 2015.
Ergonomics may be among the most significant changes. Both the Vive headset and controllers leave much to be desired in this department compared to competitors, and Lowe says that it’ll see attention for the consumer version.
On the headset side, Lowe says the Vive will get a new mounting/strapping system which will replace the current flex straps and velcro with something more rigid. He compared it to a bike helmet with a ratcheting adjustment that hugs under the crown of the head, making it sound similar to the mounting mechanism on Sony’s Morpheus headset.
“The weight distribution will be better. [The consumer Vive] may be slightly smaller, it’s more about getting the weight back a little bit. The [front of the headset] is a little far [forward],” said Lowe.
Visually speaking, he said “it’s gonna look a lot different,” and that the final color likely won’t be the grey of the Vive Developer Edition headsets. HTC is known for using a bright/white product color scheme unlike most of their competitors in the smartphone landscape.
In addition to “modular” headphones, Lowe says that the headset will have a microphone and that the cable coming off the unit will be made thinner.
“…the controllers won’t look anything like [those of the dev kit], the form will change,” said Lowe. “…the controllers have gone through a few iterations now and it’s looking pretty cool.”
He noted that most of the changes to the controller would be ergonomic, likely meaning that features and inputs would remain largely the same as we see now (a circular trackpad and grip buttons) but with a better grip and balance.
Regarding HTC’s role in the hardware and their relationship with Valve, Lowe says “They developed the tech, we’re taking it over to the manufacturing side, making some improvements as we go. It’s a good partnership, I’ll say. It’s just been a pleasure working with them.”