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HTC deepens VR with Vive Cosmos and improved Vive Pro

HTC’s smartphone division may be in glory. But the VR division impresses again with a number of new hardware and software products of the brand HTC Vive. At CES 2019 we will see a brand new headset, an upgrade to the Vive Pro and new software options.

HTC reaches for the stars with the Vive Cosmos

The new virtual reality headset Vive Cosmos seems to target the mainstream use. It does not require external sensors but offers controllers with tracking. Interestingly, this headset can be connected to a PC, but apparently also work with smartphones. This shows the teaser:

First, we recognize a hinged visor. On the other hand, the newly designed controller modeled on the announced Oculus Quest has a joystick and buttons instead of trackpads. HTC apparently plans modular upgrades for this headset. Potentially HTC even places the Vive Cosmos as a successor to the previous Vive kit with a simpler structure, but with the “hitherto sharpest picture.”

The teaser of the Vive Cosmos is followed by the announcement of a new VR software. The Vive Reality System Vivers is said to “build a bridge from the real to the virtual world,” said Drew Bamford, VP, Creative Labs at HTC Vive. “The tools and environments of the Vive Reality system are designed to enable spatial computing for everyone, and VR should no longer feel like a closed app, but an exchange between two different worlds.” Vive has also confirmed that they want to release Mozilla, the first Vive-specific VR browser.

The Vive Cosmos should be the first device that is fully integrated with Vivers. The release date and the price are still uncertain. We have just a cryptic “coming soon” from HTC and an assurance that Developer Kits will be available from “early 2019”.

The Vive Pro Eye now tracks your eye movement

The ultra-high-end edition of Vive Pro has a native eye-tracking feature in the new enhanced version called the Vive Pro Eye. Coupled with the visual technique called “Foveated Rendering”, it renders sharp images wherever your eye currently focuses on the virtual scene. Accordingly, it can reduce the image quality in the peripheral and save computing power. This should also lead to a more realistic look, depending on which point in the virtual world you are currently paying the most attention.

Eye tracking should not only improve the visual quality, but also the control. Simply select virtual objects by focusing them with your gaze. You can leave the controllers outside. That could revolutionize the browsing of virtual operating system menus, web tabs, and the like. HTC has unveiled the new eye controls with the baseball app MLB Home Run Derby VRwhich is due to hit the market this year.

Even the current Vive Pro costs around 599 euros plenty. What the version with eye-tracking will cost, has not yet been said. We only know that it is planned for the second quarter of 2019.

Viveport Infinity opens an extensive library of VR content

The most advanced headsets bring nothing without quality content for it. HTC wants to bring these together in the content market Viveport Infinity. The in-house subscription service is designed to provide Vive users unrestricted access to hundreds of games, adventures, exclusive 360-degree videos and other VR content at a monthly flat rate. Together with free trial subscriptions, this should reduce new users the inhibition threshold to try new VR content.

Viveport Infinity can be used on current and future Vive devices as well as on Oculus Rift. Although HTC can make VR content palatable to new users, customers will continue to be convinced by the price of the headsets from Kauf. And here it remains to be seen if HTC can win the fight for the most successful VR headset.

What do you think of the announcements for the HTC Vive of the CES 2019? Does the company lead its VR business in the right direction?