March 2, 2015

Welcome to a new reality

HTC has just announced the Vive, a virtual reality headset developed in collaboration with Valve. It will be available to consumers later this year, with a developer edition coming out this spring. The company has promised to have a significant presence at the Game Developers Conference next week, where devs will have a chance to play with Valve's VR technology.

The Vive Developer Edition uses two 1200 x 1080 displays that refresh at 90 frames per second, "eliminating jitter" and achieving "photorealistic imagery," according to HTC. The displays are said to envelope your entire field of vision with 360-degree views. The company says in a press release that it's the first device to offer a "full room-scale" experience, "letting you get up, walk around and explore your virtual space, inspect objects from every angle and truly interact with your surroundings."

The device uses a gyrosensor, accelerometer, and laser position sensor to track your head's movements as precisely as one-tenth of a degree. Most surprisingly, there will be something called the Steam VR base station, which will let you walk around the virtual space instead of using a controller. A pair of the base stations can "track your physical location ... in spaces up to 15 feet by 15 feet."

Of course we don't yet know the precise specs that Oculus' consumer headset will launch with. The specs of this headset are leaps beyond those of their current crescent bay prototype. Considering we still don't have a firm idea of when the rift will launch, it's beginning to look like Oculus might have spent just a bit too much time perfecting their HMD. Unless they've got something in the works that blows this out of the water, their drive for perfection might just have lose them the race to market. Either way, Google, Sony, LG, Apple, ... are all working on VR headsets as well so this space was bound to get increasingly hot... We as consumers will no doubt benefit from this heated competition.

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