HTC kicked off its CES 2019 presence with two significant product reveals: the HTC Vive Pro Eye (which is a new virtual reality headset for PCs) and the HTC Cosmos (which is an untethered VR headset that will work with smartphones or PCs). While specs and price for the Vive Pro Eye headset are currently unknown,…
HTC kicked off its CES 2019 presence with two significant product reveals: the HTC Vive Pro Eye (which is a new virtual reality headset for PCs) and the HTC Cosmos (which is an untethered VR headset that will work with smartphones orPCs).
While specs and price for the Vive Pro Eye headset are currently unknown, its biggest upgrade is a rarity in the PC VR space: built-in eye tracking, so that a users’ eye direction and movement can be measured for the sake of better VR performance. To that aim, HTC used its CES press conference on Monday to confirm that the headset will ship with foveated rendering support, meaning that a VR game or app can render fewer pixels in the parts of the VR display that aren’t being looked at by a user. This implies (but doesn’t confirm) that HTC will make tools available for developers to marry the Vive Pro Eye’s eye-tracking sensors with 3D-rendering engines.
As seen in a (very) blurry Periscope feed, HTC executive Dan O’Brien confirmed that Nvidia is collaborating with HTC to help VR developers apply variable rate shading, a feature built into new RTX-series graphics cards, to games and apps. Only one game currently supports the RTX-series version of variable rate shading: id Software’sWolfenstein II: The New Colossus. The video analysis gurus at Digital Foundry have explored the amount of performance saved by this approach to deferred rendering based on what appears on screen at a moment’s notice. And as Digital Foundry points out, such rendering techniques are not unique to Nvidia—and could prove quite efficient in both VR and flat-screen rendering in the years to come.
Since the headset largely resembles the HTC Vive Pro and shares its name with the higher-resolution Pro line, you might expect that this headset could hit a sweet spot—in terms of delivering crisper VR imagery while pulling back on total pixel rendering—to make higher-def VR available for more PC configurations in the years to come. Oculus has announced its own plans to integrate foveated rendering in future Oculus Rift headsets, as well, but the company has not yet revealed any products with such features or eye-tracking hardware installed.
We’d like to give you a first look at VIVE COSMOS, the newest VR headset from VIVE. #HTCVIVECOSMOS #HTCVIVE #VIVEPORT pic.twitter.com/oP00jXoevU
— HTC VIVE (@htcvive) January 7, 2019
HTC also announced the Vive Cosmos, a new standalone VR headset with two front-facing cameras, two side-facing cameras, and a pair of handheld wands. This headset will not require outside webcams or sensors to operate, HTC promises, meaning that it will ship with what’s known as “inside-out tracking,” like the upcoming Oculus Quest. But unlike that Oculus headset, the Cosmos headset also comes with a surprising promise: that its 3D imagery can be powered by either “desktop PCs” or smartphones. That means users will be able to choose an underpowered phone for use on the go or combine the Cosmos’ wireless qualities with a more powerful gaming PC.
Release dates or estimates were not announced for the Cosmos. The HTC Vive Pro Eye is slated for launch in the “second quarter of 2019.”
With very little in the way of announced specs on Cosmos and how it will interface with outside hardware, a lot remains to be seen about this new product line’s performance. Ars Technica will have more on both headsets’ specs and quality as soon as HTC makes specs or demos available to the press.
<p><em>Listing image by HTC</em></p>