A new faceplate for HTC’s modular Vive Cosmos headset will introduce AR capabilities to the device — at least for developers.
The Cosmos XR Faceplate (as it’s called) is a developer product planned for launch in Q2 2020. The kit features two “high-end”, front-facing cameras used for passthrough to see the real world when wearing the headset. Cosmos XR features a 100 degree field of view (FOV) when using AR. Four of the Cosmos’ inside-out tracking cameras remain in place for six degrees of freedom (6DOF) tracking.
The Cosmos should be able to provide an augmented reality experience with the faceplate — allowing for a view of the real world with digital objects inserted into the scene. HTC Vive Americas GM Dan O’Brien told us the kit supports hand-tracking input as well as a single Vive Cosmos controller in experiences built by Vive’s own internal team.
Whereas headsets like HoloLens and Magic Leap provide a dedicated AR solution made possible with transparent optics to see the real world, a traditional VR display is opaque and powers a view of a fully virtual environment. The XR Faceplate, then, brings in the view of the outside real world to allow a “passthrough” way to view AR. This should unlock different types of experiences that mix elements of both AR and VR.
Crucially, though, the XR Faceplate is not an add-on intended for gamers and other consumers that bought a Vive Cosmos, at least it isn’t yet. O’Brien explained that the device would eventually be “for enterprise and professionals”, but it’ll need a developer test run first.
“The way it works on the enterprise side is you go proof-of-concept, to pilot, to full distribution,” O’Brien said of the kit’s roll out. “It’s a different adoption cycle, much different than game and consumer.”
Developers will be getting a first look at the XR Faceplate at GDC 2020 in mid-March. HTC will then ship it out to studios in Q2, though a price wasn’t mentioned. Given its enterprise-focus, though, we wouldn’t expect it to be cheap.
Vive Cosmos isn’t the only headset bringing passthrough AR to market. Earlier this month we took a look at the LYNX-R1, another enterprise level device, albeit without the modular features.