Preview: Virtual reality at its best
We had the chance to test HTC`s virtual reality (VR) device, the HTC Vive headset back in Vienna.
HTC Vive – Headset, powered by Steam VR
The HTC Vive is a virtual reality headset developed in cooperation with the global gaming leader Valve and combines Valve`s VR tracking and input technologies with HTC`s design and engineering, setting a new global standard for the industry. The HTC Vive is the first of its kind offering a fully immersive 360 degree experience, plunging people into other worlds at a moment`s notice.
It allows you to get up and move around in a room so you can explore your virtual space, inspect objects from every angle and truly interact with your surroundings. Because of this possibility to move in real space you don`t get VRMS (videogame-related Motion Sickness). Before we go further here are some specifications we got from HTC.
- 1,200 by 1,080 pixel screen resolution in front of each eye
- 9:5 aspect ratio
- 90 frames per second refresh rates
Tracking and Room Scale
- Gyrosensor, accelerometer and laser position sensor track rotation of head on both axes to an accuracy of 1/10th of a degree
- Two Steam VR base stations track physical location (in spaces up to 15 feet by 15 feet or 4.5m x 4.5m).
- Scalable for use in a smaller space or even in your chair
- In-built Steam VR chaperone system to enable users navigate their room while in VR
- Full Room Scale 360 degree positional tracking
- X2 Ergonomic VR game controllers with haptic feedback
- Headphone jack
Gaming content partners
- Vertigo Games
- Barry - Fireproof
- Dovetail Games
- WEVR Labs
- Steel Wool Games
- Wemo Labs
- Cloudhead Games
- Drew Skillman
Other content partners
- The National Palace Museum in Taiwan
- Developer edition Spring 2015
- Consumer edition Holiday 2015
Experience with the HTC Vive
We started the simulation on the bottom of the sea, standing on the deck of a sunken ship and watching the underwater world, little fish swarms are forming and passing by, focused on the movement of a passing skate. Suddenly when we turned left, an enormous whale was almost touching us with his big fin. He was so near that we got the feeling he was watching us directly in our eyes. The perfectly tuned maritime sound background supports the real life experience.
At the second demo we found ourself in an office and we now can see the controllers like our hands. They look like Mickey Mouse hands and we can move stuff around. We can turn on the computer, grab a cup of coffee and take a donut and bite it. It is also possible to grab things and to throw them away, what was fun to do.
On the third demo we found ourselves in some kind of witch house, the door opens and a big fat guy – like Hagrid from Harry Potter but without hair and a big nose. He hands us a lighting beam and we have to find circles in the house where we can put the light into to open a portal, which transfers us into another place. After a bright flashlight we found ourself at the edge of a cliff, by our left side there is a tremendous frog – and we really mean frog, like a real frog, but human sized – that was funny. At this moment we were about 20 minutes in the VR and we were standing on an edge of a cliff and while we aware of that this is not real, we choose our step really carefully. We have become a part of this environment and actually reaching around for stuff and trying to avoid obstacles.
The forth demo is taking place in the desert. We get a gun and we do not waste time to start with some shooting practice. While we do not usually brag, we were able to hit all three bottles in our first try. So you can imagine, this was our favorite demo. After some time we got company, zombie after zombie was arriving and attacking us. After six shots we had to reload our gun. If you don`t want to get killed by zombies, you have to be quick and precise. With a special shot to a blue circle we get transferred to a bridge, where we got a rifle for our next battle. Being now well equipped with two weapons, we get into the fight for our life.
You get quickly used to the controllers and don`t experience them as controller, rather like your hands. There are no instructions necessary for the usage, you find the right buttons intuitively, because of the haptic feedback.
You get 1200x 1080 pixels resolution per eye (2400x1160), with 90 frames per second and there is no noticeable lag. For the testing purposes, HTC used Nvidia`s GTX 980 Ti and we were really surprised with the results.
The HTC Vive VR experience comes with a 360 degree vision with one VR Headset, two wireless Tracked Controller and two Steam VR base stations, which track your physical location.
According to HTC representatives, the sales release date will be announced this year and it probably will be before the Christmas holidays. The equipment should be available in Q1 2016, but maybe only in limited numbers. According to the press team, the price will stay under EUR 1.000.
We have to admit that we were stunned by the experience. We honestly did not expected it to be this real. Even as you know that it is not real, your brain plays games with you and drags you into another world.
The cooperation of HTC and Valve could become something really great as these guys got us to a new step in VR technology.
We are definitely considering to become one of the first buyers as we are looking forward to a new kind of entertainment.