+ Thursday October 24th, 2019

One of the best parts of MWC is getting your hands on all of the latest devices, gadgets and toys from across the tech sphere. While taking a look at HTC’s new 5G mobile smart hub we got the opportunity to give the latest iterations of the HTC Vive a go.

For those not familiar with the HTC Vive it’s one of the leading VR headsets with several different models now available. Vive offers headsets ranging from a basic PC powered headset to Pro models with in-built VR eye tracking and base station-less functionality.

The current HTC Vive range includes the Vive Pro, Vive Pro Eye, Vive Focus and Vive Cosmos. We went hands-on with several Vive Pro Eye demos and I have to say that compared to my last VR demo two years ago things have gotten better.

Up first we tried the Vive Pro Eye with a baseball simulator Homerun Derby. The inclusion of eye tracking for menu selection makes a huge difference to the experience. Interaction via glance is more initiative and user-friendly than the traditional VR hand controller and was completely intuitive.

To play the game itself we had a baseball bat with a Vive tracker on the end. The combination of a real bat and the VR simulator was amazing. While we always knew we were in VR we really felt like we were playing baseball if it was missing one thing it, would be haptic feedback – but that would be difficult to achieve for every type of controller: perhaps they need haptic batting gloves!

As you can see Scott our fearless Editor has some serious game.

Next, we tried Maclean racing simulator. Once he had shimmied into the small Formula 1 cockpit the setup was similar to that for the PS4. The McLaren Vive cockpit had three foot pedals as well as paddle shifters for gear changes. We used the car in an auto mode though — mostly because it would take us a while to learn the controls.

The experience was once similar to the PS4 with a fair bit of pixilation but the smoothness seemed to be much better on the Vive.

Although the steering wheel was a bit out and required recalibration (and that is his excuse for continually running off track) it was a fun experience. Scott’s time was of course the best ever although I wasn’t around to verify that but he tells me that is what he was told.

Last we got to try an attack helicopter simulation using eye tracking to direct our weapons in “on rails” helicopter VRS Godzilla battle. For this demo, the Vive Pro Eye was paired to a mechanical chair that moved along with the simulation. The combination of the VR experience with the chair moving in response to the path of the helicopter created a very immersive experience.

I’m known to experience motion sickness from VR, but I can honestly say that even with the wild motion of the VR chair I walked away without any motion fatigue. Hopefully, this is a sign that VR is getting smoother, with a better refresh rate. I also think the demo had my cockpit scenes not moving which reduced the overall field of motion change: this may have helped?

Overall both Scott and I walked away having greatly enjoyed our experience and legitimately wanting more time with the Vive. VR has come along way since it’s rebirth a few years ago and we can only imagine where it may be by next MWC.

Duncan Jaffrey   Associate

Duncan Jaffrey

Duncan has been interested in technology since coding "Mary had a little Lamb" in Basic on his ZX Spectrum. A fan of all things Android, most days you'll find Duncan trawling the web for Android news or quietly editing away on Map Maker.

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