VR from HTC – systems, features and games

Virtual reality is gradually becoming more accessible to the mass user. Restrictions are a thing of the past, there are more and more interesting games and applications, prices are going down. The big players in the VR market are HTC, Sony, Valve and Oculus. Today we will tell you about HTC: the devices on sale, accessories and games for them.

A brief history of VR
Virtual reality is usually associated with the entertainment industry, although its scope is much broader: before medicine or education. Since the beginning of the first commercial experiments with VR in 1980-1990, such systems have focused on gamers. And also – for pilots and the military, they were gaining painless experience in a virtual environment.

In the early 1990s, VR came to the halls of slot machines, but did not stay there for a long time. Visitors were frightened off by the poor picture quality. The same goes for the home systems sector. Nintendo in 1995 started selling Virtual Boy, similar to modern VR glasses, but no one swept it off the shelves, unlike the NES and SNES. Sega, Nintendo’s main competitor of those years, tested its VR headset for a long time, but eventually canceled the launch.

Virtual Boy

The gaming industry returned to the idea of ​​virtual reality when the computing power of hardware increased. In 2012, the world learned about the Oculus Rift. The consumer version of the revolutionary helmet was released in 2016. Earlier, Facebook bought the startup Oculus for more than $ 2 billion. Gigantic investments have rushed into the field of VR.

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And what do we have now? Sony has successfully jumped on the VR train – its PS VR headset (requires connection to PlayStation 4) surpassed the mark of 5 million sold copies. Let PS VR be outdated, the Japanese are in no hurry to show the second iteration. Microsoft does not want to link its consoles with VR yet, but has launched the Windows MR (Mixed Reality) software and hardware platform. Unpretentious WMR headsets have been released by many manufacturers.

Game developers are not far behind either. Valve recently rolled out Half-Life: Alyx, sharpened strictly for VR helmets, and, for example, Ubisoft sent Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time to virtual reality parks.

Half-Life: AlyxBack in 2015, HTC made clear its intention to get involved in the battle for the VR market with its Vive helmet at MWC. She joined the race in alliance with Valve.

HTC Vive (2016) was a much more expensive and serious alternative to the glasses that required a smartphone to work. It was equipped with OLED panels with a resolution of 1080×1200 (total – 2160×1200), a viewing angle of 110 degrees and a refresh rate of 90 Hz. The gamer could correct the interpupillary distance and move the lenses away from the eyes if he used ordinary glasses. It was easy to “return” to the real world – thanks to the front camera, the helmet did not need to be removed.

A special box, the so-called “linkbox” or connector, was used to connect to a PC. From the helmet to it went a power cable, HDMI and USB wires, from the “linkbox” to the outlet – a power cable, from the “linkbox” to the computer – HDMI and USB.

The HTC Vive relied on external tracking. You set up two SteamVR base stations diagonally in a room, they sent infrared rays, a helmet and two controllers received them, as a result, actions in virtual reality were read accurately and without delay. The controllers themselves were handles with a ring that received IR signals. HTC has built in every trigger, touchpad, vibration motors.

HTC Vive

The Vive was followed by the Vive Pro (2018). Here a manufacturer from Taiwan has used AMOLED screens with a resolution of 1440×1600 in one eye and 2880×1600 in both. The field of view and refresh rate are still 110 degrees and 90 Hz.

HTC Vive Pro

The accelerometer, gyroscope and proximity sensor also remained in place. But HTC incorporated its own headphones into the design, made a convenient mount that evenly distributed the weight of the headset over the head, replaced HDMI with DisplayPort.

Virtual reality system HTC Vive Pro Starter Kit

Vive Pro Eye (2019) became a special case of Vive Pro. It is capable of tracking eye movements. You can use this in different ways – for example, to literally give commands in the game with the direction of your gaze. True, the Vive Pro Eye is still targeted not at gamers, but at commercial clients such as app developers.

Virtual reality system HTC Vive Pro Eye 132 999 *
HTC isn’t just wired solutions. In 2018, an autonomous Vive Focus system with AMOLED panels with a total resolution of 2880×1600, a viewing angle of 110 degrees and a refresh rate of 75 Hz appeared in stores. Such systems rely not on external tracking, but on internal – IR emitters are built into the helmet itself.

HTC VIve Focus

Subsequently, HTC constantly refined this product – among other things, added six degrees of freedom when moving in VR (movement in space along different axes) instead of three.

Virtual reality system HTC Vive Focus Plus

[for PC, 2880×1600, 75 Hz, 110 °, 695 g]
100 499 *
In stores: in 3 stores
Another experiment is the Vive Cosmos (2019) with a 2880×1700 flip-up LCD display. This series is called transformers in the press. The bottom line is that a budget helmet can be turned into a fancy one by purchasing additional parts.

HTC Vive Cosmos

Let’s say you have Cosmos Play with offline tracking. If you splurge on the front panel, controllers, and SteamVR base stations, you’ll get the Cosmos Elite with more accurate external tracking.

Virtual reality system HTC Vive Cosmos 64 999 *
So we got to the Vive Pro 2, the latest HTC system. In Russia, it is available only in the DNS.

HTC Vive Pro 2

The manufacturer is satisfied with the appearance of the Vive, so in the Pro 2 model they concentrated on improving performance. The LCD screen resolution for each eye is 2448×2448 for a total of 4896×2448. The viewing angle is 120 degrees, which is slightly less than the Valve Index. The refresh rate of the picture reaches 120 frames / s. HTC recommends using DisplayPort 1.4 rather than 1.2 to transfer content without loss of quality.

Virtual reality helmet HTC Vive Pro 2 79 999 *
The Vive Pro 2 is available as a helmet-only or complete with controllers and base stations.

Virtual reality system HTC Vive Pro 2 141 999 *
HTC VR Accessories
Vive Pro 2 and select previous models are compatible with Vive Tracker 3.0, Vive Facial Tracker and Vive Wireless Adapter. Let’s briefly dwell on each.

Vive Tracker tracks body movements and reflects them in virtual reality. Usually they buy several such trackers and use straps to fix them on the legs, arms, and waist. As a result, a rather realistic avatar can be transferred to a VR game.

Tracker version 3.0 functions in conjunction with SteamVR beacons of the first and second iterations. Compared to older trackers, the new device is smaller, lighter and has a battery life of up to 7.5 hours.

HTC Vive Tracker 3.0

The Vive Facial Tracker reads the movements of the lips, eyebrows, cheeks, tongue. Accordingly, the avatar in the application acquires your facial expressions. Facial Tracker is designed for Vive Pro and Pro Eye and connects to these helmets via USB.

HTC Vive Facial Tracker

Finally, the Vive Wireless Adapter lets you get rid of cables and computer tethers. You will gain mobility, but the picture quality will drop – to 3264×1632 and 90 frames / s in the case of Vive Pro 2. The adapter itself is fixed to the helmet, a special card is placed in the PCIe slot of your computer, and the transmitter is placed on the display. The headset is powered by a battery (it lasts for 2-2.5 hours). You will carry the battery in a plastic clip pocket that is included in the kit.

HTC Vive Wireless Adapter

What to play
Games, videos and applications for HTC Vive are collected in the Viveport branded store. There is an Infinity subscription that gives you access to dozens of projects like Xbox Game Pass. You don’t have to pay right away, use the 14-day trial period. Nobody forces Viveport to launch. Well, we will highlight several VR games that must be reviewed (we also wrote a separate article about this ).

Beat Saber (2019). Musical arcade. Here you need to rhythmically chop blocks. Beat Saber was the first VR game to break the 1 million mark.
Half-Life Alyx (2020). Half-Life 2 prequel, telling the story of Alix Vance.
Assetto Corsa (2014). Racing simulator with VR mode.
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim (2017). A reason to look differently at the seemingly trampled down here and there spaces of your favorite RPG.
Microsoft Flight Simulator (2020). Flight simulator with VR support. The scale is amazing: you can fly into any city and airport in the world.
Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond (2020). The authors of Titanfall humorously approached the use of VR capabilities in this shooter about the Second World War.
Pavlov VR (2017). Addictive multiplayer FPS. So far – in early access.
Arizona Sunshine (2016). Zombie action with the possibility of co-op.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners (2020). Another notable zombie action game based on the popular franchise. The events in it take place in New Orleans.
The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners

LA Noire: The VR Case Files (2017). A set of missions from the detective LA Noire, adapted for virtual reality.

Finally, we repeat: VR has gone far beyond games. So, the same Vive Tracker is used instead of motion capture systems to reduce the cost of filmmaking, in the Flaim firefighter simulator and the Win Reality sports simulator, which is intended for professionals. What examples of unusual uses of VR can you name? Share in the comments!