January 8, 2019 // 11:29 a.m.
HTC's virtual reality division, Vive, has announced new high-end tethered and self-contained virtual reality devices, the Vive Pro Eye and Vive Cosmos respectively, along with new software offerings including an all-you-can-eat software subscription.
That HTC, which reported a 62 percent drop in revenue year-on-year in its last earnings call, is hoping for virtual reality to revitalise its business is no secret: The company has been pushing its Vive platform heavily, from launching the high-end Vive Pro and self-contained Vive Focus to announcing software subscription offerings, big-budget film tie-ins, in-house studios, and even accelerator and venture capital programmes designed to boost uptake of VR technology.
During the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 (CES 2019), HTC unveiled its latest attempts to make Vive the go-to VR brand starting with a pair of new headsets: The Vive Pro Eye and the Vive Cosmos. As the former's name suggests, the Vive Pro Eye is an evolution of the Vive Pro headset which adds integrated eye tracking capabilities - using the data from where the user is peering to boost perceived resolution, perform clever focusing tricks, and even operate menus or record training data for later analysis.
The Vive Cosmos, by contrast, is aimed less at the enterprise market and more at end users, taking the position of HTC's flagship consumer-oriented PC-based VR device. While details surrounding the hardware are thin on the ground, HTC's talk of 'ensuring consumers can access their virtual world whenever their life may call for it' and a comment that it 'has the capability to be powered by more than a traditional gaming PC' suggest that the design will include support beyond tethering to high-end PCs, either in lower system requirements that would allow it to be driven by more mainstream hardware or possibly even the ability to connect to a user's smartphone for on-the-go use.
'We found that over 85 percent of VR intenders believe that ease of use and set up is the most important factor to consider while purchasing a headset,' claims HTC Vive's Daniel O'Brien, focusing on the confirmation that the Vice Cosmos won't require any external tracking base stations. 'We believe Cosmos will make VR more easily accessible to those who may not have invested in VR before and also be a superior experience for VR enthusiasts.'
The Cosmos will also be the first headset to receive what HTC is calling the 'Vive Reality System', a new design of VR software. Developer kits are scheduled to arrive some time early this year, with pricing and availability for a commercial launch to be announced later. The Vive Pro Eye, meanwhile, will launch in the second quarter at an as-yet unconfirmed price.
At the same time as the hardware announcements, HTC confirmed that it was expanding its Viveport software subscription service to include the all-you-can-eat Netflix-style option which was missing at launch. 'Today, we're announcing our next step in Viveport’s evolution with Viveport Infinity,' Rikard Steiber, president of HTC's Viveport division, explains. 'When we first launched our subscription service, we gave consumers the ability to try five titles a month. Now with Viveport Infinity, we're offering our members the best value in VR content with 100x more choice, all at one low price.'
The Viveport Infinity subscriptions will open on April 5th 2019, HTC has confirmed. More information is available from the official blog.