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HTC will make Vive Focus standalone VR headset available in North America and dozens of other markets


HTC said it will make the Vive Focus standalone virtual reality headset available in North America and dozens of other markets. The move is part of an expansion aimed at taking VR into enterprise markets, where customers arent as sensitive to higher hardware prices. Previously, the headset was available only in China. Dan OBrien, general manager of the Americas for HTC Vive, said at an event in San Francisco that the Vive Focus will be available for developers at $600, and the enterprises can buy the product for $750 in 37 new markets, including the U.S. and Europe. Vive Advantage and Vive Advantage+ are new services aimed at getting enterprises to adopt VR headsets with enterprise support. There will also be a new six-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) controller for the Vive Focus in the coming months. This allows people to use the Vive Focus with both hands in VR, in contrast to the current 3DoF controller for use with one hand. Hugo Swart, senior director of product management at Qualcomm Technologies, said mobile XR (extended reality) can drive technology in the enterprise. He said the standalone category, which sits between smartphones and PCs, fits nicely in the enterprise, with advantages such as wireless and two-hand controller experiences. Enterprises are using VR to collaborate and engage with a complete solution, said OBrien. He said enterprises are already using VR to train thousands of people in everything from manufacturing to medical enterprises. In the past, the Vive Focus was available in China and other limited markets. The Vive Focus isnt quite as powerful as the HTC Vive Pro or HTC Vive, which both use PCs for processing. The Vive Focus, however, does not need to be attached to a PC, as it has its own Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor as its brain. It has three hours of battery life and a screen resolution of 1,440 x 1,600 pixels per eye. It also has inside-out tracking, meaning it does not need separate sensors to be put up around your room. OBrien said that 65 percent of people surveyed felt that VR could be used in training and simulation, and 59 percent felt it could be used in education. We felt collaboration in a professional environment was an unsolved category, OBrien said. Vive Sync is a workforce collaboration tool targeted at this market. You can mark up shared documents and store them for future use. As many as 20 people can be in the same VR space. Vive Sync offers us the ability to meet in groups in virtual reality, he said. The device will use HTCs Viveport as its single store, with apps available for multiple kinds of headsets from different vendors. For example, Shadow Creators Shadow VR head-mounted display will work with the Vive Wave platform, meaning it is Vive compatible, and apps for it are available in the Viveport store.

HTC’s standalone VR is available in the US, starts at $599


It's only for enterprise customers for now, however. Almost a year after it was released in China, the HTC Vive Focus is finally available in the US and Europe, making it a total of 37 markets (including Japan recently). There is a catch, however, in that these headsets are geared more towards enterprise customers on this side of the world. The kit will sell for $599, and by paying an extra $150, it'll come with the Vive Enterprise Advantage service package, which includes commercial licensing, dedicated support, tailored hardware warranties, batch configuration feature and more. As a reminder, the Vive Focus is a standalone headset, without the need for a phone or an external PC. It has a resolution of 1,440 x 1,600 per eye, is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, and developers will be able to experiment with its 6DoF controller add-on shortly. HTC made this announcement at an enterprise-centric event where it's making the case for VR for businesses. In an interview with Engadget, General Manager of the Americans Dan O'Brien said he saw great traction in various business VR applications in the US and Europe. Some of the industries where VR has a potential use case include automotive design, architecture design, situational training, medical training and location-based enterprises. Announced alongside is a collaboration tool called Vive Sync, which essentially enables conference calls in VR. Think VRChat but for work, if you will. Users will be able to brand the environment and import objects to share with others in this enterprise application, while also making use of the Office 365 integration -- especially for setting up meetings. Pilot trials will begin in December ahead of a Q1 2019 launch. The Vive Focus uses HTC Vive's own Android-based Vive Wave platform instead of Google's Daydream. Several other third-party manufacturers also use Vive Wave as its platform, primarily in China. At the event, the company announced that Shadow Creator would be the next hardware partner to utilize Vive Wave. Richard Lai contributed to this report.