Report: HTC To Launch Mobile VR Kit This Year, Might Not Be What You Think

by Jamie Feltham • February 15th, 2017

With Oculus placing bets on both PC and mobile VR with Rift and Gear VR, along with plans for a standalone unit that represents the best of both worlds, many have wondered if HTC might try for a strong mobile VR offering as well. It seems that day is coming.

According to CNET, HTC will launch a mobile VR device of some sort before the end of the year. Speaking at a recent launch event for the HTC U series of smartphones, Chief Financial Officer Chia-lin Chang said that the company has “a good plan in terms of combining mobility with VR,” which we’ll see “in the coming months”.

Chang also said the device would not consist of a “phone slapped onto a headset” as seen with current mobile VR contenders like Gear VR and Google’s Daydream View. Chang did state, however, that the product would launch before the end of the year.

“We’re a VR company, we’re going to have something,” Chang said.

The phrase “combining mobility with VR” had us questioning if this device could be an add-on to the Vive, like the TPCAST wireless upgrade kit, rather than an entirely different VR product, so we reached out to HTC to clarify the statement.

“In a recent interview, Chialin Chang was referencing the idea that there are different ways to approach VR that span the full spectrum from truly mobile 360 to immersive room-scale like the Vive, and everything in between,” the company’s Patrick Seybold told us. “As HTC, we’re better prepared than most companies to reach that full spectrum.”

What could HTC be working on in the mobile space that isn’t a standard smartphone-based setup? The first and most obvious answer is a standalone device powered by on-board computing rather than a smartphone. This is a hot topic in VR right now, with Oculus, Intel and Qualcomm making their own standalone prototypes. Each of these features inside-out positional tracking, meaning it has sensors fitted to the device to pick up your movements, rather than using trackers set up elsewhere in a room like HTC’s Vive does.

HTC has already embraced mobile from a software perspective, launching a Viveport M app last year that offers experiences compatible with smartphone-based headsets like Google Cardboard.  The company also partnered with Google to make the search engine giant’s Pixel phone, the first phone that supports Daydream. Could this be another collaboration?

We know Google is excited to merge its Tango and Daydream platforms, but there are battery and heat constraints that current smartphones can’t overcome in doing both VR rendering and positional tracking at the same time. A standalone self-contained VR headset made by HTC with different trade-offs for heat, weight and battery life could be a perfect match for a merged mixed reality platform from Google. Or could HTC be making its own entry into the Daydream ecosystem with this mobile device? We’ll have to wait for more details to emerge.

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  • user

    why do you speculate about a standalone device when they said that it will be compatible with their new flagship handset?
    “The device will be compatible with HTC’s new flagship phone, the U Ultra.” (cnet) its possible that they designed the ultra with the heat problem of mobile vr in mind.
    why wouldnt the headset connect via usb-c? video, audio, data, power.

  • Xron

    Damn, another company railing away from true vr… I guess less time for pc vr -.-
    As for me they could release decent 2nd gen. vr headset early next year and devs make some good mmo rpg. Then they can play with their phonish vr as much as they like.

    • riotkid101

      not really there reaching out to a different market as they know not everyone has the money for full vr yet its a smart move on htc as currently the only good mobile vr is the gear vr which is exclusive to samsung so by reaching to a new market they can get more people interested in vr and gain mor eprofit and use that money into pc vr

      • Xron

        daydream?

      • Get Schwifty!

        I find this a bit humorous… Oculus has been saying this from the get-go, that its a mixed market with different niches and they were lambasted by people partial to Vive. Now that a Vive exec says it, people are like “good idea, smart move HTC”… not saying you necessarily feel that way, but it’s funny how the tone always shifts if HTC does something vs. Oculus even if its the same move.

        • John

          Still banging the Oculus vs Vive drum eh?

    • Get Schwifty!

      Seriously? “True VR”? So tired of this rubric… VR spans multiple use cases with various applications… full-on PC-based VR is not about to go away, I really cannot understand this phobia about companies having multiple VR products. Development is not going to cease for the PC I assure you.

  • Hope it won’t be a Daydream clone

  • Claus Sølvsten

    make me some gear vr like htc glasses that support iphone and can let people spectate / “cross platform” game with vive aswell and im sold

  • Matt Ford

    probobly something to do with that recently leaked “htc vive sports tracker” ???