I have one. But before the review, I thought I would go over some of the buzz circling the device. It’s spawned startup companies, contests, and other innovations.
Virtual Reality (VR) development is increasing at Mach speed, and HTC isn’t any playing games. Immersive VR is no longer a pipedream, and HTC partnered with Valve to create the coolest VR headset and environment on the planet. With backwards compatibility and a huge developer network, the HTC Vive can be anything you need it to be.
The Device and the Environment
The HTC Vive headset finally hits market
The HTC Vive was created by the love, sweat, and tears of HTC and Valve developers. The companies actually worked on VR solutions independently before partnering together to create the HTC Vive. The result is one of the most impressive virtual reality headsets in existence that promises to remain relevant year after year.
The Vive is groundbreaking because of the realistic features it offers. The headset allows for room-scale play, thanks to Lighthouse positional tracking, and even features a front-facing camera so users can see the real world as needed. The device is also the first to offer fully immersed VR, so users can switch between games and apps without removing the headset.
The Vive launched in April and an update will come when it needs to, according to developers. Each headset is backwards compatible and will allow users to upgrade software as updates are made. Since the device uses the same graphics card as high-end gaming consoles, however, early backers shouldn’t be too worried that technology will leave them behind. The device retails for $799 through HTC, and comes with the headset, two controllers, and all accompanying accessories.
HTC Vive X for Developers
If you’re sick of the wishy-washy development of Oculus Rift, check out HTC’s Vive X project from HTC. The Vive entered the market with a splash last month, and to really get things going, HTC launched a $100 million accelerator program to incentivize developers to create for the new VR environment.
The program calls developers from Taipei, Beijing, and San Francisco to work with Vive investors and mentors to develop a VR platform that will actually reach consumers quick fast and in a hurry. HTC will also pay developers for their contributions, and is already accepting applications for participation.
The Vive platform already features a range of games and prototyping capabilities, but the true capabilities of the VR environment have yet to be tapped. VR has long been considered the ideal environment for learning (especially for things like marine biology and anatomy), so now is the time to begin developing VR programs for the future.
Developers interested in participating in the program should apply on the Vive developer website.
HTC Vive VR for iPhone
HTC Vive headsets now support Android and iPhone phone notifications with an accompanying app. While the Android app has been out since the launch of the Vive headset, developers were still working out the kinks on the iOS version. Now both apps are available for all Android and iOS users, although we aren’t quite sure what you’d do with it without the headset.
The phone notification platform allows users to receive call and text message notifications while immersed in the Vive Virtual Reality environment – a nice gesture to allow users to maintain a connection to the outside world while gaming. The app does not support email memos or notifications from other apps, but it does allow for calendar reminders (you know, so you won’t miss any meetings while you’re saving the galaxy), and it is the only VR platform to support phone notifications.
Users can download the app in the Marketplace and App Store.
Vive earns thumbs-up everywhere in tear down
For all you techie DIYers out there, the HTC Vive just might be the easiest Vive headset to take apart. During a recent iFixit teardown, the Vive got an impressive score of eight out of ten for using standard parts that can be easily replaced, and coming apart without damage.
The Vive was a joint effort between HTC and Valve. According to the iFixit report, Valve must have had great input into the design, because the layout is similar to the company’s Steam Controller, and even uses similar parts, which could make getting replacement parts a cinch.
With this, the teardown team seemed impressed that Vive used a uniform contour lens and interacted with mounted IR emitters without having to track its location, like the Oculus Rift. Instead, the Vive featured an outer shell that uses an IR filter for tracking, which could make for easier repair.
With this, most parts were reported to be easily removable without causing damage – great news for DIYers. So if you are looking for a VR headset you can modify, this is it.
The Endless Possibilities
BMW uses Vive VR headset for new car design
In case you thought VR was just for avid gamers, BMW has used the technology for prototyping since the 1990s. The automobile manufacturer recently announced it will use the Vive VR environment and headset to allow designers from around the world to check safety features and dashboard layout from anywhere in the world.
Vive will allow BMW designers to collaborate on car designs without the drag of building a physical prototype. The company already has a dedicated VR mockup car prototype that gives users the “feel” of being in a car, while they can experiment with design elements, such as stereo control placement. The new technology will also allow experts from around the world to collaborate on new car designs without physically needing to work together. Who knew all the possibilities VR would bring?
Star Wars comes to Vive
We all went nuts for The Force Awakens, but what if Star Wars had a build your own adventure platform? Rumors say it just might. According to a short YouTube teaser for Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine, the HTC Vive VR environment could launch a new VR game that lets users explore the universe and even have lightsaber battles on demand.
The teaser was short and didn’t give a release date or any real information about the new game, but it showed enough to let us know the Vive will at some point release a Star Wars Cinematic VR Experiment, and its just a matter of time until we can decide for ourselves if we will use the Force for good or evil.
Manus VR glove for Vive
If there’s one thing VR hopes to get rid of, it’s handheld controllers. The more we move towards VR and Augmented Reality, the more we crave experiences that lend to our natural body motion, and what’s more natural than hand movement? That’s exactly why the Manus VR glove was created.
The Manus VR glove is the first glove created for the VR environment, and will be compatible with the HTC Vive. The washable gloves allow for wrist-mounted controllers that work in conjunction with the Vive’s Lighthouse positional tracking technology to follow users in real-time without a traditional controller.
The Manus VR developer kit, which includes a USB dongle, two gloves and wrist-mounted holders for Vive’s controllers, is available for pre-order for $250 and should ship this fall.
Fantastic Contraption comes to Vive
(Video via Kert Gartner)
If you feel gaming has lost its wonky, hands-on, problem-solving feel, don’t fret. Developer Colin Northway recently released a video teaser announcing Fantastic Contraption will make its way to the HTC Vive platform soon.
Fantastic Contraption gained a huge following for the creation of a wacky, colorful world where users can build millions of unique contraptions to move throughout the game’s world map. And if you thought it was fun on present gaming technology, you haven’t seen anything yet.
The one-minute teaser showed a user in the game’s pastel world pulling building materials out of thin air. In one minute, the user created a structure taller than himself to reach the next location on the map. The game looked unbelievably fun and entertaining and will give your kids something wholesome to play in the VR environment (you know, other than only fighting off zombies in the endless apocalypses.
The HTC Vive headset was voted best in VR content and entertainment, and for good reason. The device is one of the only on the market that seems to truly understand the needs of consumers. VR is great, but how great is it without visibility to the outside world, hands-free play, and educational apps? HTC and Valve partnered together to create a phenomenal product that shows the world what VR can truly do, and this is just the beginning.
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