HTC Announces Vive Wave Open Mobile VR Platform, Vive Focus HMD

HTC, hoping to curb mobile VR fragmentation in China, announced Vive Wave during the company’s annual Vive Developer Conference. Vive Wave is a toolset that lets developers support third-party mobile VR HMDs on HTC's Viveport content distribution system.

With China's VR market booming, the number of companies selling VR headsets, particularly for mobile, is also growing. Choice is great, of course, but when each device has its own content platform, it’s difficult for developers to support all systems, paving the way for one platform to dominate.

HTC is striving to prevent this scenario by offering a unified solution that supports a wide range of hardware. The Vive Wave platform purports to solve two industry problems: It gives software developers a larger potential customer base with no extra effort; and it frees hardware designers to focus on hardware innovation, rather than perfecting a software distribution system. HTC said that 12 hardware partners have already signed up to take part in Vive Wave. The company also revealed that 35 developers have committed to creating software for the Vive Wave platform.

HTC also said that it formed a partnership with Unity to integrate Viveport and the Vive Wave SDK into Unity to offer one-click publishing to the Viveport distribution platform. HTC said that the no-hassle publishing system would support Viveport for PC VR and mobile VR content.

“We’re delighted that the Vive Wave VR open platform is receiving such strong industry support from both hardware partners and developers,” said Alvin Wang Graylin, China Regional President of Vive, HTC. “As the VR industry leader in China, it is our duty to help reduce market fragmentation and provide content developers with more ways to make money. Vive Wave will assure a higher consistency in the user experience on a variety of mobile VR devices across various price points, making quality VR more accessible to the mass market.”

Along with the Vive Wave announcement, HTC discussed a few more details about its upcoming standalone VR headset for the China market. Over the summer, HTC announced that it would release a Snapdragon 835-powered VR HMD for China that would mirror the specifications of the standalone Daydream headset HTC is building for the global market. Today, the company announced that the headset would be known as the Vive Focus.

“As the world continues to become more mobile and connected, we’ve been working closely with Vive through our HMD Accelerator Program and advanced VR software features to enable immersive virtual reality experiences without the need for wires or PCs,” said Hugo Swart, senior director, product management, Qualcomm Technologies Inc. “The combination of Snapdragon’s ultra-low power, high performance VR coupled with the new Vive Wave VR open platform will help content developers deliver best-in-class mobile VR experiences to users.”

HTC didn’t reveal many new details about the device, but the company confirmed that it would feature a low-latency, high-resolution AMOLED screen. The representative that we spoke with declined to discuss the full specifications of the hardware and would not say how much the Vive Focus would cost or when it would be available. The company did note that the Vive Focus would be the “first commercial standalone device to deliver inside-out 6-degree-of-freedom tracking (6DoF).”

Predictably, the Vive Focus headset is fully compatible with the Vive Wave open platform and Viveport content distribution system. In fact, HTC is offering Vive Vision headsets along with Vive Wave developer kits to qualifying developers. The company said that it handed out 500 priority vouchers to developers who were present at VDC 2017. HTC is also accepting applications for Vive Wave developer kits through the Chinese Vive developer hub.

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