HTC and Valve are planning to disclose on Monday that the consumer edition of the HTC Vive virtual reality headset will be available for preorder on February 29, GamesBeat has learned. The system will be available in early April.
The two companies — which will make the announcement at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona — are creating a headset for VR, which many believe has the potential to become the next great computing platform. Tech advisor Digi-Capital estimates VR and augmented reality will become a $120 billion industry by 2020. But first, the first VR systems have to hit the market and excite consumer interest. And the HTC Vive is in a race against Oculus VR’s Oculus Rift headset to be the standard bearer.
The announcement wasn’t officially shared with us, but we believe this is what the companies will announce in Barcelona, according to a source familiar with their plans.
HTC and Valve plan to release the final version of the Vive commercial system, which uses the Steam VR system created by video game maker Valve.
The Vive will be accompanied by Vive Phone Services, which let you stay connected to the real world without exiting the virtual world. The Vive Phone Services allow you to receive and respond to both incoming and missed calls, get text messages and send quick replies and check upcoming calendar invites directly through the headset.
Yes, that means you may be able to live in virtual reality without coming up for air.
With the Vive introduction, HTC is going to make the case that the hybrid reality of the Vive and Vive Phone Services will open up new possibilities for consumers and businesses.
The final version of the Vive is a step up from the Vive Pre. It includes updated wirelessly tracked controllers, a front facing camera, and an enhanced head strap offering greater stability and balance through a reworked cradle design. It has a better visual system with brighter display to give a deeper sense of immersion.
The price is to be determined (update: The HTC Vive will cost $799). The system will ship with two full VR applications. They include Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives, by Owlchemy Labs. That title is a goofy way to train people how to do jobs in the year 2050, including office jobs and gourmet cooking jobs that have been taken over by robots.
The other bundled game is Fantastic Contraption, by Northway Games, where you are on a grassy island floating in the sky. You build contraptions that work in the virtual world and use them to solve puzzles.
HTC anticipates the Vive will be used far beyond games, and it wants to work with developers to foster the creation of content that spans multiple sectors including entertainment, retail, education, design, healthcare and automotive.
The Vive makes use of wireless VR controllers, room scale movement (thanks to sensors that put in your room that detect your movements and the safe spots where you can stand in the room), and a head-mounted display with a built in camera.
I visited Seattle and saw a dozen demos of games for the HTC Vive Pre. I think it is a great system for VR that is very well designed and is a great way to introduce people to VR. I’m pretty sure it will require a hefty gamer PC, and the final price will be fairly high, but it’s just the beginning of VR.
Update at 7:37 a.m. Pacific: HTC said the price will be $799.