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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 China-exclusive Vive Focus VR headset is now launching worldwide


HTC will start selling its standalone Vive Focus virtual reality headset worldwide today, after an initial launch in China earlier this year. The headset, which will cost $599 in the US, is aimed at business customers in 37 countries. Its part of a larger attempt to make HTC VR headsets appealing to companies, including a newly announced collaboration app called Vive Sync, which lets employees in different offices meet and work together in VR. The Vive Focus is a self-contained mobile headset that tracks a users motion with outward-facing cameras — similar to the upcoming $399 Oculus Quest headset. HTC announced it after canceling a similar headset based on Googles Daydream VR platform, and it was initially unclear whether the Vive Focus would launch outside China. However, HTC confirmed an international release this spring, making a development kit available to US buyers. We were impressed by the Vive Focus tracking quality, and since its launch, HTC has developed fully tracked motion controllers to supplement its original remote-like pointing device. But dont expect a direct Oculus Quest competitor. HTC isnt pitching this as a consumer device — its more likely to show up in training simulators, industrial design facilities, or arcades. Buyers can add one of two Advantage premium service and repair packages, bringing the cost up to either $749 or $799. The Vive Focus will sit alongside HTCs older $499 Vive and $799 Vive Pro headsets, which are tethered to a computer. HTC touts the Vive Focus as a headset for businesses that want a truly mobile VR experience. Unlike the original Vive, it doesnt require any external sensor boxes, and it features the same high-end 2880 x 1600 resolution as the Vive Pro; its powered by Qualcomms Snapdragon 835 mobile chipset and has a battery life of up to three hours. HTC highlighted another upcoming all-in-one headset by Chinese company Shadow Creator, which is using HTCs Vive Wave mobile VR platform to launch a headset called the Shadow VR. It will launch worldwide on November 11th, and has a similar feature set to the Vive Focus, albeit with a slightly lower-resolution screen. HTC has set its sights on business customers for a while now, but its emphasizing that aim more than ever with the Vive Focus. Thats a contrast with competitors Oculus and Sony, which have portrayed their VR headsets as mass-market entertainment devices — although Oculus also provides headsets to companies like Walmart for training and other uses. HTC is likely making the safer move here, since businesses have consistently used VR systems for decades, while its only recently carved out a niche in the consumer market. But for anyone looking to buy an HTC-built VR headset for personal gaming or VR movies, its a bit of a disappointment.