HTC Announces Vive Focus Standalone
HTC announced a new standalone VR headset, the Vive Focus. HTC had previously teased the device as a Google Daydream headset, but has now decided to chart its own path, proceeding without Google and concentrating on the Chinese market. That leaves only Lenovo as a partner for Google’s WorldSense 6DoF Daydream devices.
HTC is pushing ahead with its own software platforms in a China-first strategy after being relegated to a hardware-only role in Western markets by its partners Valve and Google. It is creating a new standardized platform for hardware manufacturers called Vive Wave that will function like the OpenVR initiative created by Valve to help bring multiple devices onto the SteamVR storefront. Vive Wave will help partnered companies support HTC’s own Viveport storefront and allow developers to target Vive Wave devices easily with Unity. HTC says 12 partners are already on board.
The Vive Focus retains the 6DoF “world scale” head tracking and 3DoF controller that were part of the Daydream WorldSense specifications. The same features are supported by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Virtual Reality Development Kit, which the Vive Focus may be based on. Engadget went hands on with the device and reports that the tracking works pretty well. Pricing was not announced.
Black Friday VR Deals
Microsoft is knocking $100 off the cost of Windows Mixed Reality VR headsets for their Black Friday deal this year. That brings the least expensive model down to only $299 including controllers.
Best Buy will knock $50 off the Oculus Rift bundle, bringing it down to just $350. That’s probably the best deal in VR for Black Friday as the Rift is nicer than the Windows headsets and has better content (if the website sells out you may still be able to order in store).
Sony is knocking $100 off all PSVR bundles and the PS4 console itself as well.
Viveport is offering large discounts on prepaid subscriptions (the subscription service is awesome if you want to briefly demo a lot of different Vive games).
New Industrial Design Concepts
Palo Alto based design firm Nonobject created a bunch of cool VR designs (and a few prototypes) to explore alternate form factors to currently available designs. One of the more interesting is a design that splits in the front so it can be quickly taken off and rest on the user’s neck and shoulders like a pair of headphones.
Interestingly, LG recently filed a patent for a very similar design, with more thought put into how such a device would be engineered.
Pixar’s Coco VR Experience Released
Pixar’s first VR experience is now available on Oculus for free. The experience allows groups of up to four players to journey together through the world of Pixar’s new Day of the Dead themed adventure, Coco. The social aspect of the experience is an unexpected surprise and very welcome.
VR Out-of-Home Storefronts Gain Momentum in Tokyo
A CNN story looks at two successful VR “theme parks” in Tokyo, VR Park Tokyo and Bandai Namco’s VR Zone Shinjuku. According to the story, VR Park Tokyo, which charges customers 34 cents a minute, is seeing great interest from “ordinary people,” especially couples.