HTC on Tuesday formally introduced its new standalone Vive Focus VR headset at the Vive Developers Conference (VDC) in Beijing. The VR HMD is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 SoC and is compatible with content developed using the Vive Wave VR SDK and distributed through the VivePort VR store. The company also disclosed names of the partners, who also plan to use the Vive Wave and the VivePort going forward. The Vive Focus VR will be available only in China. In addition, the company cancelled plans to bring the Google Daydream-compatible headset to European and North American markets.

The HTC Vive Focus is a completely standalone Snapdragon 835-powered device that features “a high resolution low-latency AMOLED screen” as well as inside-out 6-degree-of-freedom tracking (6DoF) that does not require any external sensors for positional tracking. In other words, the Vive Focus can be used everywhere without any PC or base stations. The new headset will come equipped with a relatively simplistic Bluetooth 3DoF controller akin to those supplied with the Samsung Gear VR headset. The Vive Focus has a completely different design when compared to the PC-based HTC Vive with new adjustable straps and integrated headphones. Meanwhile, there is also a 3.5-mm audio jack for third-party headphones.

HTC first talked about its Snapdragon 835-based VR headset for China in late July. The company still has not released all of the details about the device, probably because it is still polishing off the specs and determining things like launch price. In fact, HTC handed pre-production Vive Focus units to select developers only two weeks ago, so the product is clearly not hitting the market tomorrow.

Speaking of developers, there are two important announcements that HTC made at the Vive Developers Conference. Firstly, the company has inked deals with 12 hardware partners in China (including 360QIKU, Baofengmojing, Coocaa, EmdoorVR, Idealens, iQIYI, Juhaokan, Nubia, Pico, Pimax, Quanta and Thundercomm), who will support the Vive Wave SDK and integrate the VivePort VR store into their future products. Secondly, there are 35 Chinese and other content developerswho plan to support the Vive Wave. For example, Unity Technologies plans to integrate VivePort support into its platform and enable “a more intuitive way for developers” to use the Vive Wave VR SDK in its tools.

While HTC will release the Vive Focus in China, the company and Google have cancelled plans to bring the Daydream-based VR headset announced earlier this year to Europe and the U.S. No reasons were disclosed, but perhaps HTC does not want to create any internal competition between different platforms before the VR technology in general gets mature.

This marks an interesting shift in strategy for one of the leaders of the nascent VR HMD market; the company is now going it alone rather than working with partners like Google, as was previously the plan. HTC's sale of a chunk of their smartphone assets to Google has nudged the company towards being more VR focused – a field where they've had more a lot more luck as of late – so I suppose it's not too surprising that given recent developments, they'd rather go it alone than having to work with partners. It's more risk for HTC, but also more glory and profits if they succeed.

As for Google's Daydream platform, while this is a step-back for their own standalone Daydream plans, it shouldn't be a major shift. Oculus, Lenovo, and other vendors have also committed to developing Daydream headsets, and those products remain on-track.

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Sources: HTC, Engadget, The Verge.

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  • edzieba - Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - link

    Qualcomm have been touting their 6DoF inside-out tracking solution for two generations now. As far as I am aware, this is the first device to actually use it (a last minute swap from it previously being announced as using Google's WorldSense tracking solution), and even with devkits out there I am unaware of it being publicly demonstrated, and nobody has had the opportunity to actually evaluate its performance objectively. Reply
  • shabby - Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - link

    High resolution and oled shouldn't be used in the same sentence. This is probably a 1080p pentile screen that looks like 720p. Reply
  • BMNify - Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - link

    Correction: Oculus is the main competitor of Google daydream with its Oculus store and hardware like Gear VR and the upcoming Oculus GO.

    So, Google is left with only Lenovo now, guess not many companies will like to get into this unprofitable VR Standalone device market unless they can make profits via software sales on their own store/platforms.
    Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Wednesday, November 15, 2017 - link

    They seem to be overestimating the size of the market. This isn't like buying Playstation games from the Playstation store, this is like having to buy games from the AOC store just because I have an AOC monitor.

    I'm already concerned VR itself is not big enough to attract AAA game type budgets. The best experiences I've got with the Vive have been ports of existing PC games (with their larger budget and audience) to VR, but keeping the high-detailed environments.
    Reply
  • mode_13h - Friday, November 17, 2017 - link

    They see an opportunity to be the de facto VR content distribution platform *in China*, and that's what they're going after. Maybe they think that investing in the Chinese market will foster development of compelling content that can help carry their platform into other markets... I don't know. But if they're trying to build a competitor for Google's Play store, then it's understandable that they don't want to help Google by building a 6-DoF HMD for Daydream. Reply
  • HaydenVR - Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - link

    Cool! Along with the launch of Vive Focus, HTC also announced a range of top-tier applications and platforms to be the first to release within its product, among which VeeR was honored to be a selection. https://veer.tv/blog/veer-launched-vr-support-vive... Reply

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