March 22, 2018 // 11:26 a.m.
HTC has confirmed that it will be releasing its standalone Vive Focus headset internationally before the end of the year, with developer kits available now to those registered through the company's developer portal.
First unveiled back in 2015 as a joint project between HTC and Valve, the Vive virtual reality headset has proven popular - so much so, in fact, that the company is largely relying upon it for its future financial health following ever-decreasing smartphone and tablet sales. Since launch the company has launched a $100 million accelerator programme, helmed a venture capital alliance for VR development, partnered on a wireless adaptor, announced major media tie-in deals, released a subscription service, and partnered on VR-trackable physical accessories.
One thing that has remained true, though, is that the Vive - even with the optional wireless adaptor - is not a truly tether-free device, requiring as it does a connection to a beefy gaming PC. That's where the Vive Focus comes in: Announced back in November last year, the Vive Focus takes the central Vive technology and integrates a small-form factor PC - closer to high-end smartphone specifications than a gaming PC, naturally - alongside a battery and integrated six-degree-of-freedom (6DoF) tracking for a completely standalone VR experience, no PC required.
Initially unveiled as an exclusive for the Chinese market, HTC has now confirmed that the Vive Focus will launch internationally before the end of the year. 'Built upon Vive Wave, our open VR platform and toolset that is unifying the development experience for standalone and mobile VR devices, along with Viveport as its content platform, Vive Focus is designed to appeal to a wider range of mass market audiences as well as commercial/enterprise users who want broad deployment and stunning VR experiences in a convenient and portable form factor,' crows HTC's Matthew Gepp in the announcement. 'We are bringing Vive Focus to the global markets later this year. Vive Focus is the first 6DOF stand-alone VR headset to be commercially available. We also are making Vive Focus developer kits available to registered developers in most countries through our developer portal, starting today.'
While HTC has promised to launch the device internationally, it is at present silent on how much it will charge; the tethered HTC Vive, meanwhile, recently received a price reduction to £499.99 (inc. VAT) in a bundle which includes the required 'Lighthouse' tracking hardware and a pair of motion-tracked controllers.