An apparently never-before-seen HTC headset won an IF Design Award today, which arrived with multiple photos of what was listed as a consumer headset targeting release in 2021. The fitness-focused headset is just a concept, the company says, but we’re probably going to see many of its design elements in an upcoming HTC headset.

Update (10:00 AM ET): HTC has provided UploadVR with confirmation that Vive Air is indeed a concept, and not an in-development product despite being listed by IF Design as releasing to consumers in 2021. Here’s the statement from an HTC spokesperson:

“‘It’s exciting to see our concept piece, the VIVE Air VR headset, win an iF Design Award. While this is only a concept, the design language has elements and inspirations you’ll see elsewhere in our products. We’re not ones to rest on our laurels, so although it’s great to win this award, we have business to attend to – hopefully we’ll see you on 11/12 May at VIVECON.”

The original article remains unaltered below for the sake of clarity.

Original Article (8:30 AM ET): According to the page, the headset is called ‘Vive Air’ and is set to launch to consumers in Asia, Europe, and North America sometime this year. The news was first reported by Chinese-language publication Nweon.

HTC is set to unveil a standalone VR headset, as it confirmed earlier this month in a set of Tweets and a blogpost. We don’t have confirmation yet whether this is it, or a variant thereof. We’ll update this piece as soon as we know.

Here’s all of the photos available of the headset.

And here’s what HTC allegedly says about it on the IF Design site:

VIVE Air VR headset is specially designed for virtual fitness, optimized for high intensity with long use. Inspired by sports shoes, the new headset introduces knitted materials to VR to provide unprecedented comfort and fit. The breathable and quick-drying fabrics improve ventilation in the heated exercise. The innovative lightweight structure allows users to forget the presence of the head-mounted display to focus on virtual content. The quick-release design allows the removal of ergonomic soft components for washing.

The headset is undoubtedly very Quest-like in overall appearance, offering up four camera sensors for room-scale tracking and possibly also hand tracking. Keep in mind that many standalone headsets have adopted this style of four-sensor layout.

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There’s little else to go on for now. The person using the headset seems to be using an armband and handgrip of some sort, however this may simply be regular workout gear and not some new fitness motion controller system.

What is clear however is HTC may be looking to tap into the growing at-home VR workout niche to set itself apart from the reigning champion, Oculus Quest 2. To compete with consumers located outside of the Facebook-less zone that is China, it may try its luck with a sportier piece of kit.

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  • TechPassion

    Jump and train with brick attached to your face. This is such a dumb idea, promoted by people who don’t understand VR.

    • VR5

      Hard disagree, fitness is a major VR genre, both as a by product of music or other skill based replayable games and dedicated fitness apps. Obviously Vive won’t be able to compete with the low Oculus Quest 2 price but the concept of this Vive Air headset is very spot on.

      • yeah, the pure numbers of people on Twitch playing beat saber til their facial interfaces melt every day is proof of that

    • RebelRedRollo

      You’re right, let me just go and grab two sabers and walk into my room that defies physics by containing various floating objects.

      Ever heard of Beat Saber? Or FitXR?

      • User_Name_24601

        Or Supernatural… or CREED… or…

    • Rayza

      nonsense

    • duplissi

      lolwut… Lots of people use VR for fitness. It seems to me that they aren’t the ones who don’t understand VR…

    • User_Name_24601

      FitnessVR is the only thing that’s kept me sane over the past year. So… go fly a kite. :)

    • Dude, you need to rethink your Tech passion, if you think VR isnt ideal for fitness – go checkout the interview with Chris Milk from Within about their Supernatural App on the Verge Podcast.

  • Holdup

    HTC days are numbered, this is a disappointment, facebook need real competition

    • Rayza

      you have no idea what features it will or won’t have lol

  • VR5

    The thing is, if you’re more expensive than the competition, at least have a desirable feature that might warrant that price for the interested consumer.

    • Holdup

      I know right, htc doesn’t realize that it’s better to sell a lot of cheap headsets than to sell a few expensive one, vr is spread by someone trying it, the more people try vr the more sales you get, ask facebook.

      • VR5

        FB’s loss leading strategy is not easy to copy. It’s not just a matter of deciding “lets sell cheap headsets”. If it were, there already would be same priced competitors.

        My point is, if you cannot match the price you need something else to appeal to customers. HTC are playing their cards well in that regard. Still, the cheaper they can make this the better.

        If it is indeed $600, it should match the 256GB Quest 2 in storage space.

        • kontis

          The problem is vendors need successful game developers or there won’t be content. Game developers need large user base or there is not enough sold copies. Which brings us back to the fact that a portable gaming console cannot cost more than $399.

          It’s seems to be impossible for HTC to compete.

          • VR5

            FB is shut out of the Chinese market and while the other Android based standalones won’t get all of the same games as Quest, it should be enough for them to gain traction.

    • kontis

      If you are a normal company without billions to subsidize the hardware like megacorporations with 10+ years ROI plans then just… give up!

      … or something like that?

      • VR5

        No. I think the design is a desirable feature.

      • guest

        That’s what Facebook wants you to believe. They are a public company and may never monitize VR. There could be a killer app or state owned shell company, or many other things that could change things…

  • OdinTheOdious

    The problem HTC will have if it is circa $600 is that anti Facebook VR gamers and VR Fit gamers are not really one and the same thing.

    Therefore the VR Fit crown will mostly probably still go for the $300 Quest 2 and the more enthusiast level VR gamers will shun it as it’s not providing any solutions for them either.

    If it’s $300, works very well on all levels and can attract some of the better standalone games onto it (possibly even just from the VR Fit sector) then it may well stand a chance.

    Then there’s the Chinese market where Facebook don’t operate so it’ll quite possibly do very well there.

  • 3872Orcs

    This is actually interesting! If it to a certain degree can sustain sweat, heat and fogging of lenses in active VR applications and is easy to clean that is a good thing!

    Now I just need good tracking, good controllers and specs similar to Quest 2 like an XR2 type chip and 90hz. It also need wireless connection to PC with SteamVR support and a good library of games and content for standalone play. Price is not important for me if I get all of those, it’s worth it to have a Facebook free option.

    • Rayza

      it won’t have Quest 2 like specs and also be much lighter

    • Lucidfeuer

      The problem is that niche, experimental functionalities don’t make a product. These are nice aspects but they should be integrated in an actual contender to the Quest which HTC still hasn’t released. If anything, the design is good sign minus the tracking camera placements.

      • Silvia Hogan

        Mary this-past month I collected $19562 through working on pc at home in my spare-time..(w1407) I figured out to do it by spending some hours in whole day consistently-computer.(w1407) it’s very nice and any of you definetly can get this. >>> https://trimurl.co/z8L3Al
        ..

  • dk

    doesn’t match the teaser they had

    • Bob

      You’re right. It doesn’t seem to align with what was shown in the last teaser(camera placement and design)

      • dk

        hmm yeah they updated the title and the article …it’s just a design competition

    • Andrew Jakobs

      I think it does exactly match the teaser, only think black and complete plastic/rubber. I think their new headset will look pretty much the same.

      • dk

        it doesn’t match the teaser at all as far as the geometry around the camera……..and the geometry of the geadset
        and now they update the article to clarify this “Update: Fitness-focused ‘HTC Vive Air’ is Just a Concept” and I like the uploadvr title “HTC Just Won An Award For A Headset It Isn’t Making”

  • Lucidfeuer

    I’ve always wondered why these companies willingly take bad decisions and voluntarily head towards discontinuation like LG did, and HTC is doing.

    Is it a problem of governance and hierarchy, like the absolutely wrong persons are taking decisions about products? Is it that they’re completely clueless and have completely irrational decision-making of which the fate is easily predictible by any shmuck? As much as I criticise Facebook and Apple, I hate to see that they’re pragmatic while non of their competitors are nonetheless.

  • kontis

    The elephant in the room:
    The biggest VR fitness app of all time is Beat Saber, which is now owned by Facebook and will never be released on a standalone Vive (or even Apple VR. That’s the reason FB acquired it).

    If they ever make Beat Saber 2 it won’t even be available on PC…

    • Rayza

      it’s on Steam so that’s hardly a concern

      • kontis

        1. Only because it was on Steam before FB bought it and before FB switched to mobile only VR future. If it was a game greenlit by Oculus studios in 2021 or later it would never have a PC port.

        2. HTC cannot rely on Steam or even PC for profits. It’s unsustainable for them. They are not Valve.

        • Phantom

          The new HTC headset is not a quest competitor. I will not be able to compete with FB because they can’t make a headset at a loss of income, since they don’t get their funding from their software like FB does with Quest 2, HTC can only depend on their hardware sales, and it’s been said that the new HTC standalone (possibly hybrid) headset will cost some where between the HP Reverb and the Valve Index price ranges, so it’s going to be expensive for a lot of people.

          • Bob

            If the new device has a mobile chipset with a focus on standalone experiences, then technically it is competing with other devices within the same market regardless of how HTC or anyone else positions it. Now are they competing directly with the Quest 2? No clearly not, but it doesn’t have to because they are providing a higher end alternative to what already exists out there. This will most likely cater to those with more disposable income who aren’t willing to provide their personal details to a company that uses and potentially sells personal data.

    • VR5

      If FB keeps Beat Saber from platforms it isn’t already on, which seems plausible, it will just invite more obvious clones.

    • gothicvillas

      Tbh beat saber is only great with custom tracks. Originals are facepalm nothing to write home about. Clones will emerge and perhaps even better than beat saber. I have close to 500hrs on Beat Saber pc btw

    • sebrk

      Hmm yeah but its not like there are no alternatives. Very basic idea after all.

  • Toothlover

    marketing their product on Quest 2’s look. :facepalm:

    • kontis

      It’s an extremely successful method in smartphone industry.

      • Lucidfeuer

        Never worked like that

    • Andrew Jakobs

      You mean like many other headsets? because Quest 2 isn’t much different from other headsets and this one isn’t either.

  • Lhorkan

    I wonder if the market is ready for such a targeted headset! A potential problem is sweat and synthetic fabrics – from experience with my old synthetic running gear, there’s a point at which the smell no longer washes out. Hopefully the face gasket won’t cost much to replace, lest you’re left with a having to stick a smelly HMD right on your nose.

  • gothicvillas

    Not bad. I rather pay 600 and dont have FB than pay 300 but with FB. 300 extra (600 RRP) would be actually pretty darn good imo

  • jiink

    I’m pretty surprised to see a halo band design on a fitness headset, given that the halo on my Rift S, while comfortable, wobbles much more during jerky or fast head movements compared to a more traditional hard (and maybe soft) strap. That might just depend on my head shape and halo shape, though.

  • I would love some interchangable sporty Quest headbands for fitness!

  • Andrew Jakobs

    This one might not be release, but compare this design with the teaser and you can see they look very much the same. So I think the new headset will look exactly like this, but in regular black plastic/rubber.

    • Bob

      “but compare this design with the teaser and you can see they look very much the same”

      No they don’t. The one shown on the teaser has a completely different camera placement on a ‘geometrically curved’ design.

    • gothicvillas

      You need to check your eyes

  • Jonathan Winters III

    Oh wow! Vive’s got a cool new headset (oh….it’s not real).

  • james drew

    i just drilled 2 holes in my headset and stuck some fans in! heating problem solved :)

  • gothicvillas

    Very unfortunate marketing for HTC. This is beyond stupid.

    • Rayza

      what are you on about?

  • grindathotte .

    There’s that “business” word again from Vive; I don’t think that’s accidental.

  • I don’t like the visual appearance of it, but for sure it has some interesting design elements for fitness in VR!

  • Rayza

    it’s definitely not a consumer device being announced soon then, they wouldn’t have said ‘business’ in both statements otherwise