Photo courtesy HTC

HTC’s New ‘Link’ Mobile VR Headset is (bizarrely) Not Part of the Vive Brand

    Categories: HTCHTC ViveNews

In a curious move, HTC has revealed a new mobile VR headset called Link that is not part of the company’s Vive brand. The move comes just a week after the company announced a mobile standalone Vive headset in partnership with Google.

HTC is by now one of the world’s leaders in the virtual reality space. The company actually set up the HTC Vive Tech Corporation subsidiary back in 2015 under which all of its virtual reality activities have been coordinated. So it comes as a surprise to see the announcement of a new mobile headset that has nothing to do with the Vive brand, the company confirmed to Road to VR, despite the device’s logo which forms a shape very similar to the Vive logo.

The HTC Link headset is powered by its U11 smartphone and uses an external camera to track markers on the headset and controllers for positional tracking | Photo courtesy HTC

Instead the Link headset is designed to work with HTC’s newly announced U11 smartphone. It will also make use of an outside-in tracking system to support positional (6DOF) tracking; it’s one of the first mobile headsets coming from a major company to do so. Curious still, the Link headset is only due to be released in Japan, HTC tells Road to VR.

The Link announcement comes just one week after Google announced that it’s working with Vive (among others) to build new mobile standalone Daydream headsets for high-quality VR experiences built on Android. Meanwhile HTC itself has yet to offer a Daydream ready phone that would work with Google’s Daydream View headset.

The bulbous top portion atop the headset lights up to function as an optically tracked marker, similar to the glowing markers on PSVR and PlayStation Move | Photo courtesy HTC

The HTC phone group’s announcement of the Link and its lack of participation in Google’s Daydream initiative seems to reveal distinct operational boundaries of the company’s smartphone business and its Vive subsidiary. Despite Vive being one bright spot in a company that’s otherwise been attempting to claw its way back from major losses in the last several years, the brand is paid little attention on HTC’s main homepage, save for a header link that sends you off to the Vive website. Conversely, the only mention of the official HTC site on the Vive front page is reserved for a footer link.

To draw an analogy, this move would be much like if Facebook released it’s own branded VR headset that had nothing to do with Oculus.

Vive is one of the most recognized and well regarded VR brands in the world today; to not leverage that brand as part of the launch of a new mobile VR headset—one which seems at odds with the strategies of the Vive brand—comes off as a strange misstep and a surprising lack of cross-pollination between two parts of the same company.