A couple of weeks back, HTC teased that it had to delay the Vive VR headset due to a major technological breakthrough, which it promised to show off this year at CES. Well, that time has come and HTC now has a new development kit called the Vive Pre, which comes with a new outward facing camera on the headset, along with two wand controllers and room sensors.
Originally, the Vive was supposed to ship at the end of 2015 but it seems that HTC wanted to include these additional features in the final product. The outward facing camera on the Vive Pre allows the headset wearer to see through to the outside world- similarly to the Samsung GearVR, which has a mode to let you see with the phone’s camera. The idea is that if you should walk close to a wall, the virtual world you are seeing will start to fade out and instead, you will see the real world and avoid hitting anything.
On top of that, the Vive Pre now comes with a pair of motion controllers, which are tracked by the lighthouse sensors placed in the corners of a room. These sensors also come with the Vive bundle, which is only available for developers to buy in limited quantities at the moment.
Right now, we don’t know how much the Vive Pre differs from what will be on sale in April. However, don’t expect it to be cheap, there has been plenty of talk of HTC being unable to price-match the Oculus, which launched today for $600/£500. Either way, we will have all of the answers in April assuming there isn’t another delay.
KitGuru Says: I feel like HTC may have oversold it when it called the front-facing camera a technological breakthrough. However, it does seem like a good way to help headset users keep an eye on the real world while using it.