While the technology is impressive, the appeal of PC-powered virtual reality headsets has been limited partly due to their high prices, awkward setups, and lack of mobility. Oculus hopes to address these issues with the recently announced $199 Oculus Go. Now, HTC has officially revealed its version of a standalone VR headset: the Vive Focus.
News that HTC was building a virtual reality headset that required no PC or smartphone first arrived earlier this year. At the company’s developer conference in Beijing, HTC finally unveiled the all-in-one, which can be used anywhere.
The Vive Focus is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 platform and comes with a high-resolution AMOLED screen. But HTC is most proud of the headset’s inside-out 6-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) tracking, which allows positional tracking without requiring external sensors like those used on the HTC Vive. It also features a rotational head strap that's described as being similar to the Vive's Deluxe Audio Strap.
All-in-one VR solutions may be cheaper and more convenient than those connected to PCs, but the trade-off is usually a much poorer experience. But HTC says the Vive Focus will be different.
"In the past, standalones have always kind of represented a mediocre balance, where you don't have much content and you can only do rotational, and it's not that much different than Cardboard except now you have one individual machine," HTC Vive's China President Alvin Wang Graylin told Engadget. "Now you can essentially do most of the things that you could do on a high-end machine on a standalone."
Another feature of the Focus is that it can be hooked up to other HTC headsets—Vive or Focus—for social interaction, allowing groups of people to have virtual meetings, watch movies together, participate in classroom exercises, and enjoy multiplayer games.
HTC said more than 100 developers are working on content for the Focus, but it didn’t reveal any specifics. Interested developers can apply for a dev kit here.
No word yet on availability or pricing. HTC said it was "focusing on the Focus for China."