HTC is working on yet another virtual reality (VR) headset: The company that has brought us the HTC Vive is looking to launch a mobile headset that will be compatible with the company’s newly-announced U Ultra phone, according to a Cnet report. The headset is said to be available before the end of the year.
HTC’s president of global sales Chia-lin Chang revealed the plans during a launch event for the U Ultra phone in Singapore, where he reportedly said that the new device would be different from existing mobile VR headsets like Google’s Daydream View and Samsung’s Gear VR. “It’s not a phone slapped onto a headset,” Cnet quotes him saying.
HTC has seen some success with its HTC Vive headset, which reportedly outsold the competing Oculus Rift during the holiday season. But with a price tag of $800, and the need for a complicated room set-up, these high-end VR systems are still slow to take off. Mobile VR has the potential to reach a much bigger market, and early signs are promising: Samsung recently revealed that it has sold more than 5 million Gear VR headsets to date.
However, mobile VR also has quite a few technical shortcomings, and most notably doesn’t include any positional tracking, meaning that it is impossible to “lean in” to a VR experience. It’s unclear whether HTC has found a way to solve this issue for its upcoming headset, or which other improvements the company aims to make over existing products.
Chang’s remarks suggest that the headset could possibly come with a dedicated display built-in, using the mobile phone only to render VR experiences. That’s an approach that LG first pioneered with its LG 360 headset, which launched a year ago but never really gained much traction.