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HTC Project Proton concept headset could be the future of AR

HTC has just announced three new Vive Cosmos VR headsets, but the former smartphone giant is also looking towards the future of augmented reality.

The firm has shared details about new Vive mixed reality headsets under the Project Proton initiative.

In concept images shared by the firm on Thursday, the Project Proton headset looks a little more like sunglasses, or a ski mask, than the VR counterparts. The concept headsets, which looks quite far away from production, may have been scheduled for a reveal at the cancelled MWC show.

Related: Best VR headset 2020

So what do we know? Well there’s a bulkier all-in-one headset (below) that offers on board processing and power. There’s a sleeker all-in-two version of the device (above) that will be tethered to a smartphone. Neither will have 5G built-in due to wariness of placing an antenna next to the brain, but the latter will be able to leverage the companion phone’s 5G connection.

In a statement (via Engadget), HTC said: “Project Proton is a prototype of a future XR glasses-style device from HTC Vive that we hope to hear feedback on from the community as we continue to work on the product.”

It seems like this may be a future version of the Cosmos XR headset, announced today. Both of these devices use passthrough video to power the experiences, whereas the Magic Leap and Microsoft HoloLens headsets rely on transparent safeguard lenses.

Close up image of a black Vive VR standing on white background

When reporting on the launch of the Cosmos XR earlier today, our own Jade King pointed out the importance of the passthrough tech.

They wrote: “This sort of passthrough means that virtual objects could, in theory, be implemented into a real-world setting thanks to a duo of high quality cameras on the faceplate itself. HTC hopes this leads to some interesting applications both at home and in the workplace. Imagine meeting with your colleagues in virtual reality instead of a stuffy office space.”

There’s no hint of a price, release date or even a final form factor for the Proton Devices revealed today, although HTC does say it has a working prototype.

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