HTC has proven its continued dominance as one of the tech industry’s leaders in virtual reality hardware at CES 2022, where the Taiwanese company shared a portable, wireless 5G VR solution as well as a few new products for its Vive Focus 3 VR headset. There’s a wrist tracker, a headset charging case and a multi-battery charging dock on offer.
All of the new tech is a move toward enabling constant VR use, providing some much-needed flexibility and quality-of-life improvements for VR lovers.
5G wireless VR — HTC’s wireless 5G VR experience enables companies to create and maintain private networks on which to stream VR content rendered remotely to multiple headsets. With the processing no longer strapped to each and every user’s head, the devices themselves could theoretically be slimmer and lighter. The company is seeing intense interest in this solution from educational providers, location-based entertainment producers, healthcare workers, and military applications.
The tech is currently just business focused, as the company didn’t suggest that individuals could connect their headsets to a 5G network for personal use anytime soon. Nevertheless, it’s still just the beginning of the VR tech boom and, over time, it’s possible that network flexibility will become more mainstream.
Vive vibes — HTC is also releasing a few new consumer-facing products. The Vive Focus 3 headset costs a hefty $1,300, packing just the headset itself, two controllers, and an AC adapter for plug-in charging. If you want easier, more convenient charging or a wrist tracker for additional metaverse integrations, that’ll cost extra. It’s a damn nice wrist tracker, though.
We are VR Troopers — The Vive Focus 3 wrist tracker is a wearable VR bracelet that, in simplest terms, allows you to add half of that arm into the metaverse. The new bracelet will allow wearers to be tracked from fingertip to elbow, allowing you to grab virtual objects or flail your hands around at a metaverse rave without bulky controllers.
That being said, the wrist tracker is somewhat bulky too when compared with something like an Apple Watch. But according to HTC, it’s 85% smaller than a controller and 50% lighter, which we imagine will help make for a more immersive and natural VR experience.
What’s it for? — Not having to hold anything while in VR is an advantage for organic, relaxed behavior and longer-term wear. Wearers won’t experience fatigue or stiff digits from gripping controllers for hours.
But considering the wrist tracker’s limited functionality for gamers — who generally want at least the option of a few buttons and sticks — this product appears to be something exclusively for the metaverse. Theoretically, a user could wear two wrist trackers at the same time, as there’s an option to select which arm you’re wearing it on (left or right). Pricing on this new piece of VR tech is TBD.
Headset charging case — There’s now also a portable charging case for your thousand-dollar headset, should you decide to bring it over to a friend’s house to shoot up some NPCs in John Wick. The case isn’t wireless, though, as there’s a hole for the charging cable to run through and plug into the wall.
This seems okay for travel — but better for parties or other situations where there’s easier access to an outlet. The zippered case also seems good for protective storage, preventing liquid damage, dust accumulation or other accidents. The pricing on this case hasn’t been released yet, but if the cost of the headset is any indication, we’d throw a random guess at a least $100.
Multi-battery charging dock — Last, but not least, is the new multi-battery charging dock for Vive Focus 3 headsets. This appears to be more of a B2B product, as the focus here is on enabling up to four headsets to charge at any given time. This is a good charging solution for arcades and workplaces looking to streamline their VR experiences, but it’s unnecessary for anyone with just one headset.
The 5G VR tech and these new accessories prove that tech companies are betting on the metaverse in a big way by providing solutions that appear mostly business-focused. Perhaps in future years we’ll see more personal accessories and options for people who don’t work at Meta and just want a pink wireless charging dock for their VR headset.