HTC Announces ‘Vive Focus’ Standalone VR Headset


Today during the Vive Developers Conference in Beijing, HTC revealed the Vive Focus, a standalone VR headset with inside-out positional tracking. The headset is positioned for the Chinese market.

Update (11/14/17): HTC has confirmed to Road to VR that the company is cancelling plans to bring a Daydream-based version of the Vive Focus headset to Western markets, including the US and Europe. More details here. This article has been updated to reflect the new information.

Original Article, Updated (11/13/17): Vive Focus is the name of the standalone mobile VR headset which was initially teased way back at Google I/O 2017 in May. The device, which is based on a Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 VR reference design, is a standalone headset, which means it has everything on board (compute, display, battery, etc) and doesn’t rely on a host PC or a snap-in smartphone.

In addition to being standalone, the Vive Focus headset features on-board cameras which are capable of inside-out positional tracking which means users’ heads are tracked through space without the need for external sensors or beacons. Though the US version of the headset is due to debut with Google’s impressive ‘WorldSense’ tracking (our preview here), so far we see no mention of WorldSense for the Vive Focus, so it may be relying instead on tracking software from Qualcomm or in-house from HTC.

Vive China President Alvin Wang Graylin reveals the Vive Focus on stage at VDC 2017 | Image courtesy HTC

While other inside-out VR headsets—like Oculus’ Santa Cruz prototype and the Windows VR headsets—also use their inside-out tracking tech for positionally tracked motion controllers, the Vive Focus appears to use a simple controller with trigger and trackpad that will only track rotation (similar to Gear VR and Daydream View).

The headset will run HTC’s newly announced Vive Wave platform. Described as an “open” platform, Vive Wave seeks to consolidate content from China’s mobile VR market which HTC calls “fragmented.” Details are still emerging, but it sounds like Vive Wave is aiming to function for the Chinese mobile VR market like Valve’s SteamVR functions for the US desktop VR market—a device agnostic content platform with an open door for third-party headset makers to access content.

Details on the Vive Focus price and release date have yet to be announced. Detailed specs like resolution, field of view, and battery life have not been revealed either, though HTC has noted that the display is AMOLED. However, since the headset is based on a Qualcomm reference design, it’s likely that the Vive Focus will closely match the specs we dug up on the reference design earlier this year.

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The Vive Focus is specifically aimed at Asian VR markets. Though a variant of the headset was due to launch in Western markets by the end of 2017, HTC confirms they’ve scrapped those plans. Announced earlier this year at Google I/O 2017, the US version of the headset was to be based on Google’s Daydream platform, from which it would draw VR content, and feature Google’s WorldSense positional tracking (which we previewed earlier this year). The Western version of the Vive Focus headset was expected to be based on nearly identical hardware (with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 SoC at its core).

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • Benjamin Stanley

    Shut up and take my money!

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    Meh. I don’t see built in audio…but I’d bet it’s doing something similar to the Oculus Go.
    It’s probably a LOT like Oculus Go, which means crap (no 6 DoF) controller(s).
    Stand alone is of course the future…but it’s just not good enough yet.

    • dk

      yes it’s a Go with 6dof headset………….look at the 3rd pic u can see the slights most likely for speakers

  • There is no US version of this, it seems to be cancelled and the use of Google tech is mentioned nowhere. It’s kind of as if HTC had released PC Vive in China only, with apps from Viveport only, and not mentioning a Valve partnership despite the tech being all from them.

    • dk

      it’s the “Vive Developers Conference in Beijing” nothing is cancelled

  • GigaSora

    Embarrassing to say the least. No 6 dof controllers when your biggest competitor is releasing with 6 dof controllers. Its looks to be a weird useless middle ground between go and santa cruz. “Vive will fade inevitably into the background” – Steve Jobs

    • dk

      loool r u joking……santa cruze won’t be coming before the end of 2018 or after that
      this is the equivalent of the Go and it has 6dof of the headset…..that’s what’s happening here ….it’s the complete opposite of what u r talking about the go should have been released a year ago it’s outdated before it’s on the market

      • Sky Castle

        This look too similar to the Gear VR which I already have. Minus the need for a phone. Also have a Vive and Rift so I’ll be passing on both this and the Oculus Go and just wait for Santa Cruz for my on to go VR.

      • GigaSora

        Nope. This thing will likely cost way over 200. Wont be priced at 200, thats for sure. Which is mainly the reason Go is a good idea. Go also is intended to expand fluidly on the existing mobile vr hardware market with its existing apps. If this is intended for daydream, or something of the like, where all the apps are 3 dof. It wont make a difference to have 6dof positional. Itll just be over expensive. But theyve already dropped out of the US market on this one, so it doesnt really matter.

        • dk

          it’s an all in one mobile platform headset

          200 bucks can’t get u more than 3dof and snapdragon 820 at this point in time

          ….no shit the first all in one 6dof headset with snapdragon 835 will cost more than 200

          • GigaSora

            There’s no point half-assing it and charging more. People will buy it, but only out of loyalty to HTC, they’re not going to get any new American customers with this. Although they already dropped out of the US market, so they probably know this. I do like the last point though. It’d be cool to see a headset as you described, but with wireless for easy switching. I often question if a headset like that w/ backpack pc’s is the future, or if we’re looking at more of a treadmill situation. I would guess the prior. Although there’s probably a whole bunch of high fidelity features they’d want to put in the new high end headsets that wouldn’t be possible without being linked to a PC. Interested to see where it goes.

          • dk

            it will be something similar to the win mr headsets when powered by a low end gpu it runs at 60hz and at 90hz when u have a more powerful gpu …….it will be something like that with a stand alone that has optional pc connection
            ….also foveated rendering might help out with higher res displays both in mobile mode and in pc mode

          • GigaSora

            I like what you’re saying. I’m just worried about the kind of crazy features coming out of research and development being able to run at all without it. The main one coming to mind being the variable depth focus technology. Although it is possible this can be turned off at no additional cost as well.

    • Doctor Bambi

      Much like competitors do, they continue to leap frog each other and learn from each other’s successes and failures. Oculus initially released GearVR without any hand controller. Daydream came out with their 3DOF motion controller. GearVR then got a 3DOF controller with better ergonomics and a trigger. Daydream is now getting standalone 6DOF head + 3DOF hand within the next few months. Oculus will leapfrog it with full 6DOF in a standalone headset, but it’s a while off yet.

      • Andrew Jakobs

        The Oculus Go is not full 6DOF..

        • Doctor Bambi

          Was referring to Santa Cruz, but I get the confusion. Modified for clarity.

  • AussieStig

    It will have to be at least as good as the current crop of HMDs to have a chance of succeeding. I want to know if it can compete with the current tethered HMDs in terms of content and platforms. What are the specs of the screen? Res? etc?

    • Laurence Nairne

      That’s just not true. You have to remember that there are other markets than high-end hardcore gaming interested in the success of VR. And those other industries require mobility as a factor over high fidelity performance in many cases.

      This is not trying to compete with PC tethered experiences, it uses mobile technology so it will ultimately fall short of your expectations.

      That being said, I do think it will lose out to Oculus Santa Cruz if it a) doesn’t introduce a 6DoF control scheme, and b) doesn’t ever come to Western markets.

  • superdonkey

    all of these standalone headsets will tank badly, its the zeal of gamers that launched VR. this device just doesnt have a market.

    • Vasili Syrakis

      Agreed. I wonder what market research they did with these things.

    • Doctor Bambi

      50% of activity on mobile VR devices is watching video content. Mobile is finding uses in other markets besides gaming and will continue to expand when standalone devices hit the market.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      I think you don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. Yes, YOU may not like it, but the Asian market is large, and especially in regard to mobile VR. There are a LOT of ‘VR’ (mobile) headset manufacturers in China, and only selling on the Asian market. HTC wants them all to buy their apps/games through their store and that’s why they also started their own ‘open’ VR Wave platform.

  • Jean-Sebastien Perron

    My God this thing is ugly.

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    • Raphael

      Looks like something nintendo would design.

  • genuine techie
  • VR Geek

    Google can you please just buy HTC outright as they very misguided at best.

  • Ted Joseph

    Having a stand alone headset would be awesome, only if the headset was powerful enough to run games like Arktika with a smooth framerate, and high resolution.

    • Lucidfeuer

      Well that’s quite contradictory: you’d need at least a PS4-level hardware to have something “powerful enough” in a compact headset form-factor.

      Which is stupid in any case because VR headset are no computing devices but visual and interactional interface devices like screens+controllers/keyboard, so wireless untethering is the only way to go.

  • bill carson

    Yeah , I don’t care . FOV and resolution please .

  • Mr. New Vegas

    Why do these companies trying to sell us things no one asked for???
    How many people here want standalone VR headset based on mobile chipset?
    And than you going to do what with it?
    If they offer us standalone VR headset that also works as regualr PC headset, for SMALL premium and i mean no bigger than 100$ AND only as option, then it might have some use: no need for cables to watch movies.