The HTC Vive Pre has been making a splash at CES all week. It’s the latest dev model of the HTC Vive, which is Valve’s VR headset, and it has some features that you won’t see on the upcoming Oculus Rift.
The Vive Pre will ship with two “Basestations,” which monitor your presence and let you customize your virtual space. The Basestations, along with a camera on the headset, will allow you to move around with more freedom than we’re used to in VR. Two controllers are also included. When you double-click the Home button on the controllers, you can see subtle green outlines of the room you’re in.
A feature called “Chaperone” will add blue outlines to furniture while you’re in VR so that you don’t have to worry about walking into it.
“Being able to switch in and out of VR without taking off the headset is a super convenient feature,” Pete Pachal of Mashable describes. It’s sort of like pausing the VR headset, but you’re still inside virtual reality.
“We’re going to make the camera completely accessible to developers and let them iterate on the potential beyond what we’ve done,” Fortune Magazine quoted Dan O’Brian, vice president of planning and product management for HTC Vive. That means that when developers are making games for the Vive, they can incorporate the camera feature.
The HTC Vive doesn’t yet have a release date or a price, and like the Oculus it will require a very high-powered PC. However, if you’re in the market for VR, this is certainly a headset to watch.
My coworker Courtney got to try an early version of the HTC Vive at Valve headquarters last year. Check out her impressions here.