HTC’s Vive Focus standalone VR headset just become a much more interesting competitor to the Oculus Quest.
The company just revealed a pair of six degrees of freedom (6DOF) motion controllers that are compatible with its mobile VR headset at the World Conference on VR Industry in Nanchang, China today. You can see Vive China President Alvin Graylin using them to slash notes in Beat Saber on the headset right here.
— Richard Lai (@richardlai) October 20, 2018
According to Engadget, the system uses a new attachment that fits to the top of the Focus to track the controllers, which appear to have tracking rings looping above the user’s hands, much like what can be seen with the Touch controllers coming to Oculus Quest. For now the controllers are in dev kit mode and Graylin says the company is “Welcoming all VR devs to join the journey.” Developers can apply for a kit here and we’ve reached out to HTC to find out more information about when these controllers might launch to consumers.
Focus itself provides inside-out positional tracking, allowing you to move your head around in VR without the need for external sensors. When it launched in China last year, though, it only came with a 3DOF motion controller similar to what can be seen with Google’s Daydream View headset (though that’s also getting an experimental 6DOF solution). In theory, pairing the headset with these new controllers will give users the freedom to move around in VR much like they would with the PC-based HTC Vive, though we’re yet to go hands-on to test that quality of the tracking for ourselves.
The headset also runs on HTC’s brand new Vive Wave platform which, notably, can stream games from SteamVR. If this support extends to these controllers that could be a major feature for Vive Focus, one that we’re not yet sure will be included in Quest (which launches next spring for $399). It’s not confirmed if Beat Saber is being shown natively or over streaming but, again, we’ve asked. (Update: Graylin just confirmed to us that the demo shown is using VRidge streaming.)
Earlier this month HTC’s Joel Breton confirmed to us that Vive Focus was still on track for a launch in the west this year. Whether or not these controllers will now be a part of that launch remains to be seen.
Correction: An earlier version of this post had an incorrect price listed. It is now correct.