By Evan Chaisson
Editor: Justin Kae
Virtual reality has become an increasingly popular concept over the past couple of years. It all started when the Oculus Rift met its kickstarter goals with great enthusiasm, way back in 2012, but in recent years, many new contestants have appeared on the market. Among these is the HTC Vive, which promises to surpass its competitors in many ways.
The Vive doesn’t come just with a headset: it also comes with two motion sensors, two wireless controllers, and small camera on the Vive itself, which sets it apart from the competition. The camera allows users to see the real world without having to take off the Vive, and allows games to prevent players from running into walls. The motion sensors are placed in two different corners of a room, while the user holds a controller in each hand and wears the headset. All these accessories have a simplistic design: the texture of the Vive is smooth with the exception of the “holes” in the headset that hold the Vive’s sensors. It all fits comfortably so that the user can experience virtual reality for extended periods of time. However, there is one flaw that has been pointed out by reviewers: the cables that go from the headset tend to be a nuisance due to their weight and number. The developers have responded to these remarks and have only one cable in the final product that will supply the headset with both power and a video feed.
When you mention VR, chances are the Oculus Rift will be the first thing that comes to mind. Surprisingly, HTC announced their new toy years after the Oculus Rift was made public. Some might see this the Vive as a lost cause, especially now that it has been announced to be more expensive than the Rift, which was considered by many to be overpriced already. But in truth, the Vive has an advantage over all other headsets that will make it stand out from the crowd, and make the it worth the price. HTC had the brilliant idea of partnering with Valve, a multi-million dollar, renowned, video game developer that has recently taken an interest in virtual reality. This move is perfect for a multitude of reasons. Firstly, the highest level of demand will come from the video game industry, so having one of the biggest game companies on your side will make the Vive very appealing gamers, especially if they are fans of Valve games. Secondly, allowing Valve to help develop the headset means that game developers will have less trouble creating games for the Vive, since they’ll be able to design the Vive for developers such as themselves.
However, it's not really justified to call the Rift and the Vive competitors. The Rift is meant to be a VR experience for the eyes only. The Rift is meant to be used sitting down and comes with an Xbox One controller. However, the Vive is meant to be a full-body experience; the Vive can track a person’s motion throughout an entire room, expecting the user to move around and experience the environment to the fullest extent. The Vive also uses motion controllers rather than a traditional controller, in order to promote the full-body experience. If you’re not a fan of moving around so much and would rather stay sedentary, in a style similar to what the Oculus is designed for, the Vive can also meet this style of play, meaning the Vive can do everything the Rift can do and more.
Although the HTC Vive will mostly be used by gamers, there are other ways that the headset can be utilized. For starters, it could be used to make training simulators for jobs more realistic. For example, a surgeon could practice an operation using the Vive and its controllers. This way the surgeon can learn in a risk-free environment while actually feeling like the operation is real. The same goes for a multitude of other jobs.
From what we have seen so far, the HTC Vive has the potential to emerge as the most popular virtual headset when it comes out. HTC has shown that it cares about its customers and its new product by using customer reviews and applying it to each new iteration that we see. The Vive has many unique features, such as its two controllers, motion sensors, and partnership with Valve that make the headset inherently different from other ones like the Oculus Rift and the Playstation VR.