The original HTC Vive is a virtual reality headset designed to plug into a powerful computer with HDMI and USB cables. But we learned this summer that HTC was working on a Vive Standalone device that you could use without a PC, thanks to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor and other smartphone-like hardware built right into the headset. It’s possible that the headset will run Android-based software and support Google’s Daydream VR experience.
Now a set of trademark filings in the US and Europe suggest the new system could be called the HTC Vive Focus. Or maybe that’s the name of some other product the company’s working on… because it turns out that the standalone headset isn’t the only new HTC Vive experience in the works.
While the standalone headset frees you from the need to use a PC, the limited processing power of the Snapdragon 835 processor will probably affect the types of apps and games you can use.
But HTC is working on another way to use its existing, wired Vive headset without a PC. According to Engadget, HTC is partnering with companies in China to launch a trial of a cloud VR service.
The idea is to free you from the need to buy or build a gaming PC. Instead you get a set top box that connects to the internet via a 60 Mbps broadband connection, allowing virtual reality graphics to be rendered in the cloud and delivered to your device over the internet. There will be a bit of increased latency, but the goal is to keep it minimal enough that users won’t notice much difference.
Engadget says the service costs about $76 per month after a $455 deposit, which sounds like it could add up pretty quickly. You can probably build your own VR-ready PC for less than the price of a 1-year subscription. But the subscription gets you more than just the set top box. It also gets you unlimited access to all the VR experiences offered by the companies.
There’s no word on if or when we’ll see this sort of cloud VR experience for the HTC Vive outside of China.