HTC’s next big product reveal event is just around the corner in May, but for at least one of its upcoming VR products, the surprise has been spoiled – by a price, anything.
Held in Germany for decades and awarded to many disciplines, the IF World Design Guide Awards unveiled their latest pool of winners earlier this month. It’s unclear when HTC’s new “Vive Air” VR headset was uploaded to IF World’s prize list, but its appearance started making the rounds Monday after images appeared on Discord chat feeds, and then the prize itself was found by VR critics Cas and Chary†
As described on the awards page:
VIVE Air VR headset is specially designed for virtual fitness, optimized for high intensity with prolonged use. Inspired by athletic footwear, the new headset introduces knit materials for VR to deliver unprecedented comfort and fit. The breathable and quick-drying fabrics improve ventilation during the heated exercise. The innovative lightweight structure allows users to forget about the presence of the head-mounted display to focus on virtual content. The quick release design allows the removal of ergonomic soft parts for washing.
While the award series has built up a reputation for decades for covering real products as opposed to vaporware, the Vive Air may very well be hiding again for a variety of reasons – so don’t grab your pre-order money just yet. Still, this leak follows a recent HTC announcement from ViveCON 2021slated for May 11 and 12 as a livestreamed event, and a headset that looks like a true rival to Oculus’s popular Quest hardware — standalone, no PC, no wires, no “tracker” boxes — would definitely make a splash at a two-day event, especially after the uneven Vive Cosmos of 2019.
HTC representatives did not immediately respond to questions about the legitimacy of the prize.
Benefits for every VR use case, really
HTC recently announced other VR accessories, but since the announcement of several new headset concepts in early 2020, the manufacturer has gone relatively dark on the new headset front. Since the Vive Air price lists a “2021” release window, its inclusion in ViveCON 2021 seems likely, although HTC may very well have additional headset announcements next month. That could even be the Magic Leap-esque HTC Proton, but due to the mix of high ambition and paltry evidence of that device’s real existence thus far, I’m not hopeful.
The gray-and-neon-yellow images of the award match the fitness-first description above, as this VR headset model certainly looks like a pair of cross-training sneakers. That ambition also ties in with an important segment of the VR software ecosystem: fitness. Over the past two years, the line of Oculus Quest wireless headsets has seen a massive proliferation of “trainer” apps, which ask players to move their heads and arms through various rhythm-timed rings, orbs, and lines, making traditional cardiovascular workout routines effective. are simulated. †
And as described, a total hardware overhaul designed for fitness could be kudos to HTC after losing so much sales territory to other VR competitors. I would honestly like to see benefits like removable fabrics, more breathability and better weight distribution for each VR usage scenario. What benefits fitness definitely benefits from hours of diving into solid games like? Population one and Half-life: Alyx† Hopefully, ViveCON 2021 won’t leave us hanging on crucial Vive Air questions like specs, wired VR options, and cost.