HTC has announced a barrage of new products at CES 2019. New this year are the HTC Vive Pro Eye eye-tracking hardware, Viveport Infinity games pass subscription, Vive Reality experience and Cosmos VR headset.
First up, HTC is bringing eye tracking to its VR headset family with the new HTC Vive Pro Eye.
According Dan O’Brien, general manager of HTC America, the addition of eye-tracking will enable foveated rendering – a feature on other VR headsets that enables reduced processing and clearer images that focus on the areas where you’re looking.
This was presented as more of a professional tool, highlighting how BMW is using it to test where users look when checking out a ‘new’ car in VR, but consumers will be more interested in what’s coming next.
Expanding the reach of Vive into the Cosmos
While HTC didn’t provide many details around its, arguably, biggest announcement, HTC Cosmos is its new VR headset that will go beyond the power of PC.
“What VR intenders say about VR today is that it’s too difficult to use, too difficult to set up, that they couldn’t take with them. [In fact] 85% of intenders believe that ease of set up is critical part of decision, want to address that,” O’Brien said.
“Offering a headset that is quick and easy to set up and can be taken on the go. Built with comfort in mind, the Cosmos headset has lighter materials, it’s easier of set up and can be used to access your virtual world whenever your life.”
The Cosmos has no external tracking tech which will, according to HTC, allow you to move between real and virtual worlds more easily.
More interestingly, HTC says that it can be powered by a gaming PC, and “powered by more than that,” with a picture of a smartphone inside the headset but not actually mentioned on stage.
“There’s more hidden under the hood, more to discuss in the coming months with future form factors and functions,” O’Brien said. “Our promise is to always improve the hardware of the Cosmos; [and improve] the capabilities and meet demands of future VR users and the users of today. We’ll have more to share in the coming months.”
A whole new world
HTC also gave updates on its Viveport Platform, the thing that lives inside the headset to allow users to discover new content.
HTC is claiming that it’s added over 1,000 titles since the last CES but not all these games are available to all users – that’s why Vive is introducing Viveport Infinity – described as ‘the Netflix of VR’.
It’s an expansion of the Viveport program that will give users access to over 500 games for one set price, although frustratingly that price wasn’t given.
Viveport Infinity will work across all HTC platforms including the Wave, HTC Vive and Vive Pro as well as any of Oculus’ platfroms.
Vive Reality, also announced at HTC’s keynote, will be the new glue that holds the platform together. From load-up of Home to the time you shut the headset down for the night, Vive Reality will be the new Vive experience.
A key component to Vive Reality is Origin, a sort of hub overworld that will be the first place you go to when you put on the headset. It’s the place you’ll find new content and provide a space to hang out with your friends.
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