October 2021 has proved to be a fruitful month for new virtual reality (VR) headsets announcements, with Facebook teasing three models and HTC announcing its new entertainment-focused Vive Flow device.
Images of three headsets being worked on by Facebook Reality Labs, Facebook’s VR and augmented reality department, were put online by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the company’s incoming CTO Andrew Bosworth.
Precious little headset information was forthcoming from Facebook about the three models it teased online. However, at least some details are expected to be released at Facebook Connect the company’s XR developer event, set to take place online on 28 October.
The images showcased prototype models, but VR-watchers have been playing close attention to the tech on display. VR Focus pointed out that one of the devices, which looks like a modified Oculus Quest, looks to have a halo strap plus sensors underneath it, which could potentially be used for facial tracking.
Zuckerberg posted an image of himself wearing a headset with a retina display and a strap going over the top of the head. He wrote: “The future is going to be awesome”.
Another headset, modeled by Facebook CTO Bosworth, had a diver goggle-style look with a shiny, almost-mirrored black front. He wrote: “We work on several prototype headsets to prove out concepts, this is one of them.”
Facebook is investing heavily in building the ‘metaverse’: a virtual world for Facebook user that they will be able to use VR or augmented reality (AR) devices to access. The company recently announced that it is creating 10,000 jobs in the EU as part of its push to make the metaverse.
HTC Vive Flow: Specs & Price
Meanwhile, HTC’s Vive Flow announcement showcased a device designed for portable use and to be more entertainment-focused than previous business-focused HTC models.
Rather than gaming, the Vive Flow is optimized for stationary experiences, so it could prove to be a decent option those wanting a more portable device for watching VR porn videos.
Selling for $499, the Vive Flow has a 1.6K per-eye display and a 100-degree field of view, with a 75Hz refresh rate. It weighs 189 grams: less than half the weight than the 500 gram Oculus Quest 2.
It is essentially a lighter, less complex version of previous Vive headsets, although it looks very different to earlier HTC models, with a new ‘mirrored sunglasses’-style design. The company says that a priority for the new model was making it easier to travel with than rivals or earlier Vive models.
While it might prove a strong option for watching VR porn videos when traveling, the Vive Flow can’t be used for most VR games, as it’s not compatible with apps requiring fully virtual hands. HTC has been promoting the headset’s use with meditation and therapeutic apps, and the stripped-down, lightweight design could have been designed with older users in mind.
The Vive Flow does not come with a controller, and needs to be wirelessly paired with an Android smartphone, which is used as a touchpad and remote. The headset also needs to be connected to a battery pack (HTC sells this for $79), as the Vive Flow’s internal battery only lasts a few minutes and is designed only to be used when swapping power sources.
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