HTC today cut the cord on virtual reality hardware by introducing the Vive Focus, a standalone VR headset that does not need to be tethered to a personal computer or smartphone. The Vive Focus is a completely self-contained solution with all of the necessary hardware integrated to the headset itself, including a high-resolution AMOLED screen and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 system-on-chip (SoC).
The trade off is that the Vive Focus is not as powerful a solution as the regular Vive, which must be plugged into a relatively burly PC and delivers high-end gaming experiences. However, the Snapdragon 835 is Qualcomm's flagship mobile chipset and should enable some interesting VR experiences, without requiring that users be confined to a specific space outfitted with motion sensors.
"As the world continues to become more mobile and connected, we've been working closely with Vive though our HMD Accelerator Program and advanced VR software features to enable immersive virtual reality experiences without the needs for wires or PCs," says Hugo Swart, senior director, product management, Qualcomm Technologies Inc.
In place of external motion sensors like the ones the Vive and Oculus Rift use to track movement, the Vive Focus features inside-out 6-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) "world-scale" tracking. Like the rest of the hardware, the sensors are embedded into the headset, negating the need for base stations. This makes positional tracking possible at any location, offering users true mobility. It also comes with a 3DoF Bluetooth controller.
The headset is bright blue and comes with its own Vive Deluxe Audio Strap. Beyond that, HTC did not get into many specifics, such as the actual resolution of the display or battery life. However, the company announce a new Wave VR open platform for the Vive Focus. That means HTC is no longer developing for Google's DayDream VR platform.
Vive Focus is launching in China, with over 35 Chinese and global content developers already developing content optimized for the standalone headset. HTC did not announce pricing or availability, or if it plans on bringing the Vive Focus to the US and other markets outside of China.