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.
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).