Sound the alarm: Valve is getting into the virtual reality business with the help of HTC. Meet the Vive headset: the most ambitious VR project to date.
It’s only a developer pilot right now, but HTC wants to have this thing under your Christmas tree by the end of 2015.
Designed in tandem with Valve, the HTC Vive aims to push the envelope when it comes to virtual reality.
While other headsets like the Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR feature head-tracking in a static environment (positional VR), the Vive is designed to let the user move around a virtual environment and interact with it by simply walking around a room.
It’s what HTC is calling Full Room Scale. It wants you to stand anywhere in the room and look at a virtual object through the head-mounted display at any angle. The device knows where you are in relation to the object and renders it appropriately based on your position.
The Vive will also support what HTC is calling Tracked Controllers so you can simulate your hands in the virtual environment to hold, touch and interact with various objects. Feel like crouching down behind a box in Counter Strike and leaning out to take a shot with the gun you’re fake-holding? You got it.
HTC says that Valve has been key in the development of the Vive, adding that it runs on SteamOS. It has to be tethered to a Mac or PC to run in the initial stages, and features a stereoscopic display inside the unit, similar to the Oculus Rift.
It’s not a phone-based solution simply because HTC doesn’t believe that dropping a device in front of your face is “true VR”. “We’re talking about having a sensory experience that’s beyond just your eyes,” HTC told us at a briefing last night.
Valve will be releasing software to developers that allow them to build games for VR environments, and HTC has been queueing up partners to work with the Vive. Partners include HBO, Lionsgate, Fireproof Games, Bossa Studios, Cloudhead, Owlchemy, Vertigo Games, Google, Skillman and Hackett, Dovetail and Steel Wool Games.
Valve will also announce more in relation to the Vive at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco this month, with developers expected to get their hands on the device soon ahead of a consumer launch by year’s end.