HTC VIVE: Valve and HTC team up to create virtual reality headset

In a surprise announcement during the HTC One M9 press conference at MWC 2015 in Barcelona, HTC announced a brand new virtual reality headset to be built in conjunction with Valve, the software giant whose Steam platform dominates PC gaming.

Unlike Samsung’s Gear VR and Google Cardboard this isn’t just a mount to slot in a smartphone. HTC Vive is a fully functional VR headset more akin to the Oculus Rift.

HTC chairman, Peter Chou, explained why HTC has entered the virtual reality arena.

“We believe virtual reality will totally transform the way we interact with the world. Virtual reality will become a mainstream experience for the general consumer the possibilities are limitless. Viewing awesome scenery, attending real time concerts, learning history, watching an incredible movie, reliving memories through photos or even shopping will never be the same in virtual reality.”

Jeff Gatiss, HTC’s Executive Director of Global Marketing, went through the Vive’s impressive list of capabilities:

“The HTC Vive will bring the first room scale experience. We use over 70 sensors to provide full 360 room tracking. What that means is that you can actually walk around freely and explore your environment.

“We’ve strived to push the boundaries of technology to set a new benchmark for performance and comfort. In other words you’re not going to get sick. Our solution features the highest quality graphics with 90Hz refresh rate and incredible audio fidelity. It’s also really light so you can wear it for longer without feeling weighted down.

“We’ll also have a pair of wireless controllers allowing you to use your hands to grab and reach, open and shoot. You wont just be able to look around, you’ll be able to move around and interact the way you do in the real world. We’re confident to say that the HTC Vive will set the new industry standard. We’re thrilled to be working with Valve and the Steam VR platform.”

Details on Vive are still sketchy so we don’t yet know if it will be a wired or wireless solution. If it delivers what HTC and Valve promise then we could well be looking at the fist serious threat to the Oculus Rift, even before that VR headset has launched to the public.

We will know more when we test it over the coming days, but HTC claims it will be sold to consumers before the end of the year.

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