Innovation

HTC Vive: The smart person's guide

If your company wants to create more than a passive virtual reality experience, the HTC Vive should demand your consideration.

The HTC Vive is a high-end virtual reality headset that uses a PC to run its graphics. It's commonly thought to be the biggest competitor to the Oculus Rift. While the two product share some similarities, there are also several ways in which they are different, and that may have a bearing on what your organization chooses to work with or buy.

Executive summary

  • What is it? The HTC Vive is a PC-based virtual reality headset.
  • Why does it matter? It's the biggest competitor to the Facebook-backed Oculus Rift, which has been the most high-profile, high-end VR device.
  • Who does this affect? In the business world, companies and organizations are experimenting with VR to different degrees. If your company wants to pursue a high-quality VR experience, the you'll at least be investigating the Vive.
  • When is this happening? Pre-orders for the Vive started shipping early April. You can order one, but you'll have to wait in line for a bit, figuratively.
  • How do I get it? The Vive is available online, so far.

SEE: Free ebook: Executive's guide to the business value of VR and AR

What is the HTC Vive

The HTC Vive is a virtual reality headset. It uses a computer with strong graphic capabilities to run. The headset is tethered to the computer, but where the Vive differs from the Oculus Rift, is that it's a full-room experience. What that means is, instead of staying seated, users can stand up and walk around a 15x15-foot space thanks to sensors called lighthouses, placed around the room. It also comes with natively-built hand controllers.

The headset is a partnership between Taiwanese company HTC, which makes phones and tablets, and video game maker Valve, which is based in Bellevue, Washington.

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Why does the Vive matter?

The Vive matters because arguably, it's the best VR experience out there right now. At the moment, it offers two features that the Oculus Rift does not, being hand controllers (the Rift's controllers won't be out until later in the year, and for the moment it uses an XBox One controller) and the full-room experience.

The combination of those two elements make for a more immersive experience where users can interact to a greater degree with their virtual world, rather than watch it passively, or use a controller that doesn't really fit the medium.

The Vive will probably not be the headset a company will lug around to client meetings and trade shows, but for a premium experience that would stay put in an office (or something of that nature), the Vive offers a great deal.

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Who does this affect?

The Vive affects any organization looking to put together an experience beyond 360 video. If you're merely interested in showing something off, there are other, cheaper options. If you're wanting to truly create an experience involving interaction, you're going to need powerful VR like the Vive.

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When is this happening?

The HTC Vive started shipping in early April 2016.

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How do I get it?

The Vive is available to order online. You can't walk into a store just yet to buy one. And unfortunately, at this point in time, there's a wait for get the Vive.

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About Erin Carson

Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.

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