On stage at Vive Developer Conference in Beijing, HTC today unveiled their upcoming standalone VR headset, Vive Focus. While HTC isn’t releasing a Daydream version of the headset in the West as previously announced, the company is using Vive Focus as the impetus for its own mobile VR platform that aims to resolve what HTC calls a “highly fragmented” mobile VR market in China, and become a common platform and storefront across disparate hardware vendors.
Vive Wave essentially does for mobile VR what Valve’s OpenVR does for desktop; it allows a large range of third-party devices onto what HTC describes as an “open” platform and serves up Viveport VR content all under one roof. It’s a pretty bold step by the company to do for China what Google is trying to do for the West with Daydream, and it seems the scale is much larger in scope given the number of partners already on board and the types of headsets capable of entry.
HTC has already signed up twelve hardware partners in China that will support Vive Wave and integrate Viveport content into their future products, including 360QIKU, Baofengmojing, Coocaa, EmdoorVR, Idealens, iQIYI, Juhaokan, Nubia, Pico, Pimax, Quanta and Thundercomm.
Vive Wave is said to be an open platform and toolset that will make mobile VR content development easy and also allow high-performance device optimization for third-party partners. HTC says the Vive Wave VR SDK offers an open interface enabling interoperability between numerous mobile VR headsets and accessories. These accessories could include Leap Motion, VR input gloves, 6DoF controllers and even eye-tracking solutions if manufacturers are so willing, Engadget reports.
According to the report, China-based developers were told they can port their HTC Vive content to Vive Wave with the choice of either adopting 3DoF controller input or by supporting 6DoF input with “additional accessories.” HTC Vive’s Associate Vice President Raymond Pao said that existing Daydream and Samsung Gear VR content could even take less than a week to port to Vive Wave, a process that the company says will be easier for developers using Unity thanks to the new one-click process to publish to Viveport.
The basic list of compatible mobile headset types is fairly wide, encompassing smartphones that slot-in to a separate headset, smartphones tethered to the headset via cable with single or dual panels, or a standalone headset with single or dual panels. The company boasts support for multiple CPU architectures, although it’s admittedly optimized for Qualcomm Snapdragon. The stipulation for entry is Android 7.1 and higher.
Hardware manufacturers haven’t been so cavalier in the West with mobile VR headsets, so an ‘OpenVR for mobile’ isn’t as plainly necessary here as it is in China. While Western crowds won’t likely ever see Vive Wave, it’s certainly an interesting experiment to follow along with.