HTC has announced they will partner with Valve to create a new Virtual Reality headset, which they’re calling Vive. The announcement came after Valve dropped hints that it would reveal a new VR project at the Game Developers’ Conference (GDC) last week.
The Vive will compete with other VR devices like the Oculus Rift, which is owned by Facebook. Although the Oculus Rift has the lead in the VR market right now, the Vive promises to be far more ambitious. It will have a mind-boggling refresh rate of 90 hertz, a 1200×1080 screen in front of each eye, and will feature “photorealistic imagery that fills your field of vision in all directions.” But the most interesting thing about the Vive is that you’ll be able to move around in it. The headset will be able to track its wearer’s position as they move around in a space of up to 15 by 15 feet, which means players will be able to actually walk around inside their virtual world.
The Vive also boasts a gyrosensor, accelerometer, and laser position sensor, which apparently will be able to track the rotation of its wearer’s head with an accuracy of 1/10th of a degree. Players will also be able to use specialised hand controllers, also with motion tracking sensors, so that the position of their hands will also be simulated in the virtual world.
Valve has been looking to delve into the hardware market for some time, with the company demonstrating prototype VR headsets last year. Early users reported impressive results for the prototype. In 2013 they announced Steam controllers as well as touchpad controllers, but they have both been delayed. Perhaps Valve’s difficulty with bringing its big hardware ideas to reality is why it chose to partner with an established company like HTC on this project.
Along with the reveal of the Vive, HTC also listed some of its content partners, including HBO, Lionsgate, Google, Cloudhead Games, and Dovetail Games.
One of the major problems that has long plagued other VR headsets, such as the Oculus Rift, is the motion-sickness people often experience while using the hardware. It’s such a big problem that it’s been given its own name – “simulator sickness”. On their site, HTC said the Vive will “eliminate the jitter common to previous VR technologies.”
In another sign of the ambitiousness of the project, HTC plans to have the Vive in stores in time for Christmas this year. That’s less than nine months. And they’re promising developer editions for Spring 2015, with an order form for developers already set up on the Steam site, with Steam offering up to two demo Vives per developer.
Steam will release more information about the Vive at the GDC in San Francisco later this month.