We already know virtual reality promises to be big, not just for gaming, but entertainment in general, and possibly some social media, too, but Facebook, Samsung, and Oculus aren’t the only players interested in VR.
This week at Mobile World Congress in Spain, HTC is talking about its partnership with another tour de force in gaming, coming together with Portal makers Valve, a company that has been eyeing the virtual reality space for some time and is looking to bring its know-how in entertainment with its own solution.
“It’s rare that a company has an opportunity to forever transform the ways in which people interact with the world and communicate with each other but that is exactly what we plan to do with Valve,” said Cher Wang, Chairwoman of HTC.
The product that will make this happen is the HTC Vive, a virtual reality headset that will use a combination of specialised controllers that will make VR less passive and more interactive, making it possible for you to get up out of your seat and get up close to a digital scene, interacting with virtual digital objects.
HTC’s Vive headset will rely on two 1200×1080 screens for each eye, resulting in what we can only assume is a screen similar to what the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Gear VR offer, with roughly 720p per eye in the not-quite-square-on-each-side configuration.
Valve’s “SteamVR” interface will likely run here, likely needing to talk to a computer given how Valve’s Steam currently relies on a PC with either Mac, Windows, or Linux.
A combination of sensors will be used to track information, with a gyro sensor, accelerometer, and a laser position sensor to track left, right, up, and down, while the aforementioned specialised controllers places around the room will tell you how close you are to other objects, essentially allowing you to walk around your digital virtualised room.
We’re told there will also be a special controller for you to play games with, making it possible for titles to feel more interactive.
At the moment, the control is one of the big hurdles facing virtual reality, as game developers and entertainment visionaries try to conceive a way of keeping virtual reality something immersive and less like another toy or gaming system that happens to have the same standard controller we’re all used to seeing.
“Vive creates an exciting opportunity for all developers and content creators, to help us bring virtual reality into the mainstream with an end-to-end solution that completely redefines how we entertain ourselves, communicate with each other, learn and, eventually, how we become more productive,” Wang said.
“HTC Vive is real, it’s here and it’ll be ready to go before the start of 2016.”
Unfortunately, that date is about all we have, with HTC and Valve sending word that the Vive headset likely won’t be here until later this year, with select developers receiving the HTC Vive from September 2015 onwards in the HTC Vive Developer Edition.
As for final pricing and availability, this is an unknown, but hopefully we’ll know more by June. Maybe Valve will even treat us to a virtual reality copy of its famous games, or maybe something new. In any case, stay tuned.