The HTC Vive: The Other Headset…

The HTC Vive is one of the leading competitors today’s virtual reality headset war next to the Oculus Rift. The HTC Vive has been around since 2012, and much of its story ties in with the story of the Oculus Rift. As with every piece of technology and understanding how it came to be it always starts with the history.

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HTC’s Prototyping Process (Engadget.com)

A Brief History

In 2012, software developer Valve and phone manufacturer HTC began contemplating virtual reality and how it could be leveraged to benefit each one of their companies. After seeing a demonstration of the Oculus Rift at E3 these two companies decided to take action and build their own virtual reality headset. HTC was a smartphone manufacturer and could foresee that virtual reality had the capability to become the next bit advancement in consumer technology since the introduction of Apple’s iPhone. Valve’s work moving into 2013 had a vision to be an industry leader in paving a pathway for virtual reality to grow, but had no interest in developing their own headset. In 2014 they decided to start working with Oculus VR evolving PC VR technology and became a key player in the creation of the Oculus Rift. However, after Facebook acquired Oculus VR Valve was forced to find a different path to continue their work with virtual reality. This opened a door for HTC to offer a meeting with Valve after hearing Palmer Luckey (the creator of the Oculus Rift) call Valve’s tech, “The best virtual reality demo in the world!”

After working together for six months the two companies were ready to share their virtual reality headset with the world. During the first months of development Valve and HTC created two different methods for motion tracking; Dot Tracking and Laser Tracking. With Dot Tracking the controller and headset would be covered in dots along with a stationary camera to track where the dots are positioned to register the headset in 3D space. Laser Tracking, which is more accurate but also far more complicated, required special sensors to be placed in certain corners around a room. Alongside developing motion sensors they also had to develop functional yet comfortable controllers. Their vision was to design controllers specifically for the HTC Vive and do away with the “A”, “X”, “Y” buttons to create something completely new. They ended up mashing two existing products together; the first being Sony’s Playstation Move controller and the second being Valves Laser Tracking controllers. When the time finally came for HTC and Valve to release their headset they chose MWC (Mobile World Congress) 2015 for its grand reveal.

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First Look at HTC Vive controller

Since being officially launched in 2015 the HTC Vive has experienced great success. HTC and Valve have also added new technology to the HTC Vice such as a front facing camera and a mic to take phone calls while inside the headset.

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HTC Vive 2017 (Engadget.com)

The Future

It will be interesting to see how the HTC evolves and impacts the virtual reality industry in the coming years. With the Laser Tracking technology that HTC and Valve have created integrating ecommerce with virtual reality technology is not too far off into the distant future. Have you ever had a rough day at work and come home to find the simple ingredients to make your favorite meal are missing? Imagine putting on your HTC Vive headset and selecting a grocery shopping app. You can then shop while sitting on the couch in your living room. Your groceries are then delivered right to your doorstep next day without you having to lift a finger. Get ready, because this is just a sampling of how headsets like the HTC Vive will reshape our future.

 

Brett Brooks is a Partner at RedFox Creative. For more information or to leave a comment send an email to brettb@redfoxcreate.com.

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