The CES is underway in Las Vegas this week, and journalists from all over the world are getting to try out some pretty cool technology for the first time. Reports are coming in with details some of the new features of the HTC Vive Pre, the latest dev kit model of the HTC Vive made in partnership with Valve. Features that you won’t find on an Oculus Rift.
First, the Vive Pre comes with two strange-but-simple controllers (pictured above) and two room sensors called “Basestations.” These Basestations monitor your presence and create a customizable area of virtual space. This, combined with a new camera on the headset, allows you to walk through a limited environment while you’re playing in VR. When you double-click the Home button on the controllers, you can see subtle green outlines of the room you’re in.
“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.
The Vive Pre also has a “chaperone” feature to help warn you if you’re about to walk into a chair. You can turn on the chaperone feature at any time to get a sense of your physical surroundings—blue outlines appear around nearby objects like furniture.
Plus, of course, game developers will likely find exciting ways to incorporate the camera into their games. “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. Interestingly, though, The Verge has reported that the Vive won’t have any exclusive games.
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.
I got to try an early version of a VR headset at Valve headquarters last year, before the Vive was announced. Check out my impressions of that incredible experience right here.