HTC is one of the pioneers when it comes to VR. The company's HTC Vive still offers the best VR experience, and recently, the company announced that they would be shipping their own Google Daydream standalone headset later this year in partnership with Google.
While we wait for the standalone headset, HTC has launched the Link VR headset for the U11. The headset might remind you of the Gear VR, but the difference is that with the Link VR your smartphone doesn't go inside the headset. Instead, it is connected to it via USB-C cable.
The headset has its own displays - 3.6-inch big (110° fields of view), with 1,080 x 1,200px resolution and capable of 90Hz refresh rate.
Samsung has been teasing its new 1.96-inch 4K LCD, but its next-gen 3.5-inch OLED sounds much more appealing because it's closer than the super-small 1.96-inch LCDs.
The new 3.5-inch display comes in at 858 PPI, and has been "optimized for VR devices, 120Hz for wearable and tablet OLED products are displayed for smooth picture quality". Samsung is making the new 120Hz display with an OLED panel and HDR support, with Samsung also touting low power consumption on the 3.5-inch OLED.
The wording here could indicate that these new panels are not 120Hz for VR, as Samsung says: "3.5-inch size, 858ppi optimized for VR devices, 120Hz for wearable and tablet OLED products are displayed for smooth picture quality". It is a translation, so we could expect VR at a different refresh rate - but I really doubt that. The next jump for VR from 90Hz will be 120Hz, at least.
The current-gen VR headsets are plagued with the screen door effect (SDE), with it being one of the last technological barriers for VR headsets before they really leap forward in quality, with Samsung teasing what could end up as the future of LCDs for VR headsets.
Samsung recently showed off a prototype 1.96-inch LCD with a native 4K resolution, and with the super-small 1.96-inch size it has an astounding 2250 pixels per inch, compared to 500 PPI average on a high-end smartphone display. We've been hearing about 4K per eye VR headsets for a while now, so this could be what Samsung has been working on in order to provide them to the likes of Oculus, HTC, Sony or even itself - with a next-gen standalone Samung Gear VR headset.
Valve and HTC want you to be more social in VR, leading Valve to announce their new beta testing of SteamVR Home.
SteamVR Home will see players finding their avatars and wearables in a new space, with virtual environments being in high resolution that "support animations, sound, games, and interactivity".
If you happen to find a new VR home that you like, you can choose to open it up to the public - or keep it for yourself, and invite friends for some VR hangs. In order to opt into the Steam VR beta, you'll need to :
- Open Steam on your desktop
- Find SteamVR in your Library under Tools
- Right click and go to Properties
- Select the Betas tab and pick SteamVR Beta from the dropdown
Microsoft Research is making strides in its augmented reality technology, with the company showing off new prototype AR glasses.
The new AR glasses currently feature an 80-degree field of view, and will correct for the wearer's astigmatism, which allow virtual objects to be viewed through AR glasses, all without additional corrective lenses.
The team wrote in a research paper on the prototype: "In future work, we plan to integrate all these capabilities into a single hardware device while expanding the exit pupil to create a practical stereo display".
As many of you know, HTC is one of the pioneering companies when it comes to VR. They are the first partner to work with Valve on the Vive for SteamVR and they have the best VR experience. HTC isn't really a PC company, so for them to be so heavily involved in PC VR was a challenge for them.
But we also know that HTC is s smartphone company with expertise in mobility and design. So, it was only a matter of time until they announced their own mobile VR headset.
Many believed it would be a SteamVR trackable smartphone headset, others believed it would just be another Daydream headset, but they were all wrong. A standalone headset means that all of the processing, battery, cooling and display are all built into the headset and are tweaked and tuned to perfection.
Google has just announced its new Daydream standalone VR headset, something that it collaborated with Qualcomm on, using their impressive Snapdragon 835 VR platform.
This is a big move, as we have a fully tethered VR experience for the highest-end gaming PCs right now, and while the VR experience with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are awesome, they're restrictive. Doing away with cables with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 processor means that we can have high-res, smooth VR experiences - anywhere.
Sitting on a plane? No worries.
On the train to work? Yeah, sure.
On a 14-hour flight? Perfect.
Sitting on the toilet? Well, I guess.
This is the type of world we live in, and mobile VR powered by Snapdragon 835 is a huge win for Qualcomm. I've tried out a few of Qualcomm's standalone VR headsets over the last year, and they're getting better and better as the improvements continue piling into the Snapdragon family. Google has their Project Tango tracking technology built into the headset, with the reference design Daydream VR headset including custom specifications for tracking cameras and other sensors, that will fully utilize Tango.
I can see tetherless VR becoming a real thing, especially when it's driven by Qualcomm technologies like 4G, future 5G technology, Wi-Fi, and more. VR on desktop could take a big hit in the future, as standalone VR headsets will branch out with new features and accessories, and then developers will dive onto them like they did with when 'apps' became a thing with smartphones. Imagine the Angry Birds of VR, or Candy Crush of VR, for example.
NVIDIA has been pushing its GeForce technology into the VR world since Oculus and HTC headsets were in development stages, and now Jason Paul - the General Manager for VR Strategy at NVIDIA has said some interesting things about the future of VR tech.
Paul was interviewed by UploadVR during GTC 2017, where he talked about his estimated roadmap for VR headsets, and how their resolutions would improve. Paul said: "I actually sat down and did the math one time. Based off how many pixels we would need to be able to push and mapping that out alongside our upcoming new GPU releases, it would take us about 20 years to achieve resolutions that can match the human eye".
Sight is a "highly difference sense" says Paul, with our eyes detecting "even the smallest inconstancies in its perceptions" adds UploadVR. In order for VR to reach a resolution where our eyes wouldn't be able to tell the difference between reality and virtual reality - taking away the weight of the headset, etc - it would take GPU development another 20 years to get there.
Paul said that NVIDIA is looking into alternative technologies that would cut down his personal estimated timeline greatly, with foveated rendering being something NVIDIA is putting stock into, and more.
HTC has been ahead of Oculus with room-scale VR since it launched the Vive, but now Oculus are stepping it up with the Rift and will "fully support" room-scale VR, something that requires 3 sensors in total.
Oculus announced the news on their community forum, something that is already in pre-release testing, and is available in the Public Test Channel of the Oculus software. What's different with the new room-scale Rift goodness, is that you'll need 3 sensors compared to the 2 that are required for Oculus Touch, while the Oculus Rift itself includes a single sensor in the box.
Oculus software has "fully supported" three-sensor Rift setups, but it has been in 'experimental' form with v1.14 of the Oculus software, with a few users reporting issues with tracking and calibration. The new v1.15 software will "fully support three-sensor configurations for larger room-scale setups", while Valve has updated the setup wizard for three-sensor configurations "based on the latest data".
With the PC hardware market changing nearly daily, it's refreshing to hear that HTC won't be releasing another Vive headset in a rush, with HTC Vive General Manager Daniel O'Brien fielding some questions about Vive 2 recently.
During an interview with Digital Trends, O'Brien said: "We're always continuing to listen to developers, what they think is the most beneficial next-generation improvements and that's how we're solving the next headset and when that will come to market". He continued: "It's not about picking a production cycle and timeline, it's about bringing really meaningful innovation that helps the developer community to create compelling new experiences".
HTC was talking about improving and upgrading the first-gen Vive, where O'Brien said that the lighter cable made the Vive a "more comfortable mid-generation" change and that there's "no harm in us doing that". O'Brien added that: "When it comes to major jumps like resolution, that's new-new products".
O'Brien was asked about when we'll know more information about Vive 2, where he said: "We're always continuing to listen to developers, what they think is the most beneficial next-generation improvements and that's how we're solving the next headset and when that will come to market. It's not about picking a production cycle and timeline, it's about bringing really meaningful innovation that helps the developer community to create compelling new experiences".