HTC VIVE held VIVECON virtually this week. The event took place yesterday, May 11, and today, May 12. While attendees could register to access content in real time through a dedicated web portal, content was also streaming on a number of sites and platforms around the 2D web and 3D metaverse.
As always, ARPost attended as much of VIVECON as possible and is bringing you context and commentary on just the highlights. The big news presented below was all from day one, while the second day of the event featured more focused discussions around use cases.
There had been buzz about VIVECON for a while now, with VIVE themselves “leaking” shots of new headsets. As a result, most of us knew more or less what to expect. That doesn’t mean that the event was void of surprises.
VIVE Focus 3 Coming in June
The headset that VIVE has been teasing for the last few weeks was revealed to be the Focus 3. An all-in-one headset with the ability to “stream connect” to a PC, the Focus 3 brings a 120-degree field-of-vision, 5k resolution, and a 90Hz refresh rate, and is powered by the Qualcomm XR2 chip.
The headset features a counterbalanced design and a replaceable battery pack for longer use sessions. The front and back cushions are also attached with magnets so that they can be easily removed for cleaning. Other comfort considerations include IPD adjustment and no-contact audio.
The VIVE Focus 3 continues to use VIVE’s inside-out tracking, with all tracking data encrypted and stored on device. The controllers have also been redesigned, and hand tracking support is planned for the future, although release times weren’t specified.
A stand-alone enterprise headset with a focus on protecting tracking data does seem to be a direct response to Oculus. As VIVE shifts toward enterprise, Oculus has shifted toward consumer markets and its enterprise solutions have increasingly run into data concerns presented by the company’s Facebook ownership.
The headset itself is set to hit shelves on June 24 with a $1,300 price tag.
VIVE Pro 2 Available for Preorder
VIVE did manage to surprise us at VIVECON with the Pro 2. The high-end consumer headset couldn’t have been leaked even if VIVE wanted to – the headset looks exactly the same as the original Pro.
ARPost has previously commented on VIVE’s tendency to stretch the life of a single headset through adapters and accessories rather than constantly releasing new headsets. While it is a new headset, the Pro 2 is hardly an exception to this rule, as the original VIVE Pro was launched in 2018. And yes, the Pro 2 will still work with all of that hardware.
“If your PC was compatible with the original VIVE Pro, it’s also compatible with the VIVE Pro 2,” said HTC’s Head of Global Hardware Products Shen Ye, who also detailed collaboration with Nvidia and AMD to achieve this impressive back-compatibility. “We’ve kept the design the same while upgrading the hardware inside, giving upgraders a familiar look and feel.”
The VIVE Pro 2 has a similar resolution and FOV to the Focus 3 but bumps the refresh rate up to a stunning 120Hz. This headset is set to hit the shelves on June 3 and is already available for preorder with an $800 price tag.
It wasn’t all hardware at this year’s VIVECON. In her keynote, HTC’s Chair and CEO Cher Wang said that VIVE is “definitely taking hold as a productivity tool” with 500% sales enquiry increases in some markets. Their software announcements definitely reflected that shift.
“The hardware was originally designed for consumers, not professionals,” HTC America’s General Manager Daniel O’Brien said in the Keynote. “While enterprise content was becoming available, it wasn’t always discoverable or deployable at scale.”
The VIVE Reality System 2.0 has launched and is “built from start to finish around business users,” according to O’Brien.
VIVE’s Vice President of Business Development and Partnerships Pearly Chen also introduced VIVE Business as “a complete solution to take your business into VR,” and “a one-stop-shop for all business needs.” VIVE designed the platform to reduce the tech-heavy nature that prevents some enterprise providers from adopting XR.
There will also be a device management system and dedicated Vive Business App Store. The content ecosystem will also be advanced through VIVE’s new Independent Software Vendor Program. The program received a beta launch at VIVECON and already has over 50members, many of whom were presenters at the event.
Chen also announced that Sync, VIVE’s remote collaboration platform announced last year, is officially coming out of beta. An enterprise edition of the tool will be made free for six months with purchase of the Focus 3.
“We cannot wait to show you all of the new features that we have been building,” said Chen.
Getting More From VIVECON
VIVECON 2021 is in the books, but you can watch the much of the event, as well as other videos from the VIVE team on their YouTube channel.
There’s also a lot to look forward to. As Wang put it in the VIVECON keynote, “VIVE Reality unleashes our imaginations to create solutions for society’s challenges. I truly hope we seize these unique opportunities to create the normal we need.”