HTC Vive teased that they’d be announcing something special for VR fans but what we didn’t expect was a mega reveal of two new HMDs and a full-on makeover for Viveport. Yesterday’s announcement at CES will change how consumers and industry prosumers navigate virtual worlds.
The Prosumer VR Headset — Vive Pro Eye
The first new VR headset is the Vive Pro Eye. It’s to release for Q2 of 2019. This is not to be confused with the Vive Pro headset released in April 2018. Both are being marketed to developers, designers, enterprise, also known as prosumers.
The dark blue Vive Pro Eye will get eye-tracking, hence the name Vive Pro Eye. This feature includes hands-free and gaze-oriented menu navigation, which means you won’t have to use controllers for menus and frees up the hands.
Tracking eye movement inside VR offers up opportunities for data collection with games, experiences, training sims, in business, marketing, and other applications; but only if those that use it develop or add the functionality to those applications.
Major League Baseball is attending CES and debuting their “MLB Home Run Derby VR” gaming experience with Vive Pro Eye’s tracking for menu control. It’s usefulness also translates to tracking the eyes in training simulators to review and then correct mistakes or adding in gaming details based on where the eyes are looking.
The Consumer VR Hybrid Headset — Vive Cosmos
The second VR headset is the Vive Cosmos. Vive Cosmos is not to be mistaken for the Vive Focus, a November 2018 release, which is positioned towards enterprise and developer use. The newest Vive HMD is a hybrid PC and smartphone compatible headset that’s positioned for consumers. Dev kits are going to be offered in early 2019.
Most headsets are like helmets and are hard to put on and take off. Ladies and gents get their hair caught in them and those honest enough to say that VR’s too much of an ordeal for newbies to use with all its wires, trackers, and lack of comfort were on to something.
Thank goodness HTC listened to suggestions and designed their headset without velcro straps everywhere and made the Vive Cosmos fit like a crown. Its screen opens upward for those moments you have to stop what you’re doing to fix a cable, drink some water, and whatnot. No more having to contemplate if its worth it to take off the headset. Also, there are no base stations to angle up and waste precious gaming time with.
New Gaming Platform — Viveport Infinity
To go along with these new headsets is the overhaul of Viveport into Viveport Infinity. VR fans will get an unlimited subscription to the platform and get access to over 500 games and experiences. This is like the Spotify, Netflix, or Hulu (kind of) for VR, so nothing is completely yours to keep, which might bother digital game collectors.
No word yet on the price but it does begin on April 5th or Vive Day. Compatibility does extend to current and future Vive products and Oculus Rift members.