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HTC is taking virtual reality in a new direction today with the portable Vive Flow immersive glasses. The Vive Flow looks more like compact and lightweight augmented reality glasses, but it has a wrap-around cloth barrier that creates your own personal VR enclosure.
As such, the glasses are a kind of hybrid between AR and VR, and they’re meant to be worn for a longer time so that people can use them to find moments to relax, refresh, and restore.
Designed with comfort and portability in mind, Vive Flow lets people find moments of calm and well-being for themselves throughout the day, including meditating with apps like Tripp, or taking a scenic, immersive drive down Route 66 with MyndVR’s original series: A Road to Remember. Overall, I thought the device was very well done.
Kuen Chang, head of creative labs at HTC Vive, showed me a demo unit that I wore on my head. Like other VR headsets, it transported me to another world where I got to use relaxing apps like Tripp. The glasses are very lightweight and the seal is pretty good with the cloth liners on the side of the glasses. That means no light gets in from the outside to disturb you in your own personal cinema. The glasses were plugged in via a USB-C wire to a battery, and the glasses synced with apps on an Android smartphone. The Vive Flow weighs 6.6 ounces, or about as much as a chocolate bar.
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You can watch TV or movies on their own personal, cinema-sized VR screen. You can exercise your mind with brain training apps, or collaborate and socialize with colleagues and friends on Vive Sync.
“With Vive Flow, HTC is taking technology in a new direction, focusing not on what we do, but on how we feel,” said HTC CEO Cher Wang, in a statement. “Maintaining our wellness has come to the forefront in the last few years, with so many millions feeling stressed every day, so it has never been more important to take time out to calm our minds, and Vive Flow provides the perfect opportunity to escape our four walls and immerse ourselves in our ideal ambience.”
The Vive Flow will be available in November for $500. A 5G Android smartphone is required.
I tried out the XR wellness app from Tripp, which was started by CEO Nanea Reeves to help people meditate. It was a pretty amazing experience, with lots of fluid movement and pretty lighting. It was like being in VR with a school of fish around me. Very relaxing.
With Vive Flow, you can dive into a range of immersive experiences via the Viveport app store anytime, anywhere, using your Android smartphone as a controller. You can connect wirelessly to an Android 5G smartphone and stream content like TV shows and films from your favorite platforms. For mirroring premium video like TV and film content from an Android smartphone, the device must support HDCP 2.2.
And you can meet with friends in realistic virtual environments via Vive Sync.
The glasses frame has a dual-hinge design and soft face gasket allow it to fold down into a compact footprint for portability. Vive Flow’s hinge is designed to fit many different head shapes and sizes. Its face gasket takes inspiration from the acclaimed Vive Focus 3, with magnetic connections making it simple and quick to swap out — perfect for when you want to share.
Vive Flow also has built-in diopter dials, allowing users to easily make adjustments for crystal clear visuals. Its active cooling system pulls warm air away from your face, keeping you comfortable throughout the day. I thought this was an awesome part of the glasses. I wear prescription glasses, and I usually find VR headsets to be uncomfortable, so much so that I remove my glasses and can’t see as well. But the dials enable me to find something close to my glasses prescription and see more clearly. Since the dials have numbers on them, you can easily remember the right setting for each eye. You can pull out the magnetic face plate and wash the surface if you need to.
If anything was difficult to do, it was using the smartphone as a controller. I tapped on the screen but sometimes it didn’t detect my touch. So I had to repeat that a few times until it recognized what I was trying to do.
The Vive Flow has an expansive 100-degree field of view allows for cinematic screens to lose yourself in HD quality content, with a sharp 3.2K resolution and a smooth 75 Hz refresh rate. Featuring full 3D spatial audio, Vive Flow delivers immersive sound and can also connect to external Bluetooth earphones. You can buy a 10,000 Ah Vive power bank separately. That gives you around four or five hours of battery life.
HTC Vive is also unveiling a special Viveport subscription plan following the launch of Vive Flow. The plan is priced at $6 per month and gives people unlimited access to a wide range of immersive apps covering well-being, brain training, productivity, light gaming, and exclusive content like a Lo-Fi room designed to look and feel like a cozy café.
Pre-orders start today.
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