A series of cryptic tweets with teasing imagery have dropped on the official HTC Vive account in the last week, but what do they point to?

It’s been a year since we’ve seen new hardware from HTC. It was back in March of 2020 that the company launched Vive Cosmos Elite, a variant of the Cosmos headset with SteamVR Tracking. The company was also planning to launch other variants of the headset, Cosmos Play and Cosmos XR, but went quiet about those variants not long after their announcement, apparently in a change of product strategy.

Now, a year later, the company is teasing something new, but we’re not sure it’s a new headset just yet. Here’s a look:

Curiously in the photo above, Twitter user Nikolaj Stausbøl spotted a tiny date hiding in plain sight, which appears to read “3/10/21.” We confirmed that the date exists in the original photo, which you can see enlarged below.

Also interesting about the photo is that it looks to be a known device—the Vive mouth-tracking development kit, as Twitter user OXIOXI pointed out, which has been in the hands of developers since at least the middle of 2020. The phrase “express yourself” in the original tweet seems to confirm this further.

Image courtesy Matt Workman

While HTC could just be needlessly teasing a device that’s already out there, it seems more likely that the company might have an upgraded version of the mouth-tracker in development, possibly one aimed at enthusiast VR users.

That’s not the only teaser photo. The company also tweeted this one:

Interestingly this photo also may well be referencing a known device… the Vive Tracker, HTC’s SteamVR Tracking peripheral which can be used to track additional objects or limbs in VR.

The existing Vive Tracker has a Vive logo at the very center which doubles as a button to interface with the device (this is the only Vive product we’re aware of that uses the logo in this way).

Image courtesy HTC

Perhaps we’re reading a little too far into it, but logo in the teaser photo clearly appears raised, and looks a good bit like it could be a button as well. That makes us think we’re either looking at a new version of the Vive Tracker, or HTC is expanding the use of the logo-button trope.

There’s other clues still, including a tweet asking users, “what would you do with 70% more energy?” with no other context.

Combined with the phrase “it’s your move,” and several other tweets from the account highlighting dancers in VR (many of whom are using Vive Trackers to track their feet), it seems like the company might be pointing toward a new Vive Tracker with better battery life.

– – — – –

Curiously, these tweets don’t seem to be talking about things we already know the company is working on. Like a new version of its Vive Focus headset with an XR2 processor, which was spotted last year. Nor does it appear to be teasing the Vive Proton, a prototype standalone VR headset that the company revealed in early 2020.

Vive Proton prototype renders | Image courtesy HTC

If the date in hidden in the tweet further above is anything to go by, we could be due to see a full reveal (or at least some more teasing) come Wednesday.

What are your best guesses about what HTC is teasing? Let us know in the comments below.

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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."
  • Bob

    Have to agree with Ben on this one. These tweets are most definitely alluding to additional accessories to work in tandem with their existing SKU’s.
    The next headset they’re working on probably will not be hinted at/revealed until late spring/early summer.

    • dk

      https://twitter.com/NathieVR/status/1368653943077756929 a headset is coming but yeah might be later

      • Jonathan Winters III

        Don’t get your hopes up kids, this is no Quest 2 competitor. It’s much more likely to be an enterprise/commercial tetherless headset. Yawn!

    • DanDei

      You are assuming that HTC makes decisions with sound logic, fiscal foresight and a working understanding of the market. Which begs the question: what parallel dimension are you from?

  • wowgivemeabreak

    It’s HTC so they will (sadly) inevitably disappoint with whatever announcement it is.

    • Charles

      Vive was great for its time. Vive Pro is still one of the best headsets. But every headset HTC has released since has been a step backwards.

      • mirak

        Index : going to LCD from OLED, no wireless.
        Quest : no issue it’s primarily thought as a mobile headset.
        Rift S : no OLED, fixed IPD, no TP Cast compatibility.
        Quest 2 : No Display Port, PC wired quality is bad, No OLED, semi fixed IPD, wifi wireless quality inferior to wigig.

        All headsets are doing steps backwards, it’s just that HTC failed on the core features, and the price is not forgiving about that.

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        • patfish

          Exactly! … at the moment there is no HMD on the marked the totally convinces me. I want to switch from my old Vive to something new …but what? …i love the lighthouse tracking, like to have a high-res resolution and don’t want a mobile VR-Headset.
          No Headset require that needs at the moment. Where is the Vive Index Pro with a high-res OLED display???!!! …i little change and everyone would like to have it (if some good AAA Games would appear in the near feature :-/)

          • mirak

            Best option is to get a second and Vive Pro for the resolution increase, there are plenty on the market, that’s what I did.
            It’s a small improvment, but at least it’s not going backwards on enverything else.

  • xyzs

    They should just make a high FOV wifi 6 wireless headset that can connect to Steam the best/easiest way possible and it will be a success.
    It SO OBVIOUSLY what everybody ask for for years that you just cannot go wrong.
    If it’s something else that they announce, they are stupid and hopeless.

    • mirak

      They spent a lot of energy to reach like below 5ms motion to photon latency on wired headsets.

      They don’t want VR to make even like 20% of people potentially get sick, and ruin all their efforts.

    • patfish

      Wireless is cool but at the moment not that imported!
      High-res screens, perfect contrast (OLED), wide FOV, low latency, and precise and fast tracking are way more important for a good Immersion.

      At the moment no HMD can offer that all. I really hope Valve give us a INDEX PRO very soon because they would need to only change the LCD Screens to better 2160 x2160 OLED screens – and it would be perfect!

  • brandon9271

    I’d be excited for Samsung or LG or literally anyone BUT HTC!

    • mirak

      So you prefer give more credit to LG and Samsung who canceled their headsets, than to a company that at least do not abandon the market.

      Samsung abandonned Gear VR and Odissey.
      LG had an almost done version, and they never released it.

  • Ad

    Proton is vaporware, but I can’t believe they actually messed up this PR so badly. They could have alluded to the fact that it was an accessory or an individual tracker some way. All this does is suck air out of any future announcement. I really hope they switch whoever they’re using for marketing.

  • oomph

    Is it like nreal?
    no, then passe.
    the best is to buy nreal co. then upgrade

  • Aragon

    Just give me a VR Headset with the following features

    – Formfactor and Weight of Rift-S.

    – Display could be flipped upwards

    – Inside out Tracking on par with Rift-S (no(!) external tracking stations)

    – 4K OLED Display or better 8K

    – 24,30,60,72,80,90, 120 Hz support
    – Lens must be sharp till edge of the display
    – HDMI 2.1 input which allows me to connect a blu ray player and watch movies with it. Also support for 3D Blu Rays. User could select between virtual Cinemas , it has a build in Frame Interpolation to pimp up 24 fps to 120 fps.
    – Controllers, just clone Valve Index Controllers

    Price, 999€ – 1499€

    Yes, you hear right. If you want a cheap VR Headsets go elsewhere, there are more than enough <400€ Windows Mixed Reality Headsets out there.

    What is really missing on PC is a good quality High End VR Headset which could be also used for virtual TV/Cinema.

  • Mr. Cat

    Wow you guys hit the nail on the head with this article. Bravo!

  • Ardra Diva

    I think manufacturers should be making headsets that far exceed today’s graphic cards so that they will actually last a few years while the PCs catch up to what they are capable of