HTC is building a VR eco-system

By - CTL
January 16, 2017

By Jenny Brewster.

Attendees at this year’s CES in Las Vegas were hoping for another year of major announcements from the current VR big guns.

However, while Oculus co-founder Jack McCauley popped up to reveal what he thought the future of VR might be (Hint…it’s not Oculus Rift), the now Facebook owned company was nowhere to be seen on the show floor.

Were they bored of the trade-show treadmill, having recently released the new Rift controllers? Or was it simply a case of ‘if you’ve got nothing to say, then don’t say anything?’.

Meanwhile, HTC had plenty to say. While there was many pre-show speculations that they were going to announce the HTC Vive 2 – a wireless, 4k each eye headset – it seems that punters will have to wait a while longer for that.

Instead, the company announced a number of seemingly less important releases that actually extend the Vive’s capabilities, and in fact build an eco-system that could point to the future for the next stage of virtual reality.

While a new and adaptable audio headset set up might not seem all that exciting, the other major announcement was the HTC Vive Tracker, a device that can turn any real life object into a controller, opening up new ways to interact with VR and ‘mixed reality’.

What exactly does that mean? “We’re trying to build this foundation for an accessories ecosystem,” J.B. McRee, HTC’s senior manager of product marketing for VR, told tech site Wareable.

Wareable journo Hugh Langley commented: “It’s an ecosystem of many parts, but the modular approach allows HTC to keep users and developers together, rather than launching an updated system that would leave people behind.”

Elsewhere, the company also announced a web of initiatives designed to rapidly grow its virtual reality market. The plan will empower smaller companies, content creators and just about anyone en route to its ultimate goal – building the largest ever virtual reality platform.

An additional strand of the new HTC strategy hinges on something that has been lacking for many owners of VR hardware – content. Some 1,000 pieces of VR content were released on HTC’s platform last year (an average of 30 a week) and the company predicts 3,000 titles will release at the end of this year.

The company specifically mentioned it will focus on the education, with apps designed to help teachers visualize their lessons to students, and enterprise markets. What those ‘enterprise markets’ are remains to be seen.

To help consumers discover content, which helps developers reach new audiences, Vive will introduce a virtual reality subscription service – “it’s Netflix for VR,” said Rikard Steiber, president of Viveport, the platform’s content store.

Check out HTC’s recap of CES 2017 below to find out more…

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