HTC held a special press event on Monday, just one day before CES officially started. The company announced two new VR headsets, a new VR platform, and a new VR app subscription service.
On Monday we livestreamed the presentation. Here are the highlights from that stream, including the major product announcements.
Vive Pro Eye
Vive Pro Eye is a refresh of last year’s Vive Pro– adding eye tracking technology. This allows for better social VR and gazed based UIs, but more importantly it enables foveated rendering.
Foveated rendering is a process which renders most of the view of a VR headset at lower resolution except for the exact area where the user’s eye is pointed, which is detected with eye tracking. That area in front of the eye — where humans perceive the greatest detail — is rendered at a significantly higher resolution. Foveated rendering is considered crucial for future advancement of VR as it allows for higher resolutions without impossible GPU requirements.
HTC didn’t reveal the price, but told us it will be launching in Q2 of this year.
Viveport Infinity is a new subscription service. It gives users access to over 500 VR apps. The current Viveport subscriptions give access to just 5 apps per month, so this is a significant increase.
HTC seem to want Viveport to be the Netflix of VR. If the platform can secure enough content, Infinity could deliver on that goal.
Vive Reality System
Vive Reality System is a new VR platform for all HTC headsets. In the past, HTC was reliant on Valve’s SteamVR platform. VRS is a clear step by HTC to forge a future without that dependency.
VRS will have a VR UI for launching apps and managing settings. But like Oculus Home and SteamVR, it will also feature interactive multiplayer home spaces. We’re eager to see how HTC will compete in this already crowded space.
Vive Cosmos is a future PC VR headset from HTC. Unlike the original Vive it uses inside-out tracking, not SteamVR “Lighthouse”. In fact, the headset’s native platform isn’t SteamVR either- it’s the new Vive Reality System.
Interestingly, HTC also suggested the headset could work with other devices, showing an image of a smartphone. The company will reveal more details “later this year”, but we expect this means it could be powered by a HTC smartphone.