The last thing I was expecting to come out of this year’s CES was another virtual reality headset, but here you go. Announced earlier today (or last night for those of you in the UK), the Vive Cosmos is the latest headset from HTC, and it’s been designed with top quality comfort and ease of use in mind. Here’s everything we know so far.
Admittedly, it’s not entirely clear from HTC’s press release whether the Vive Cosmos is, in fact, a PC-based headset. Its teaser trailer would imply it uses your smartphone to power its VR experience (see below), but HTC have also said it “has the capability to be powered by more than a traditional gaming PC.” It’s ambiguous, to say the least, and HTC didn’t really help clear things up when I asked them directly. “For now, Cosmos is PC based, and we will be releasing more information about further applications in the coming months,” an HTC representative told me over email.
Still, regardless of whether it uses your phone or your PC, the key thing HTC are pushing with the Vive Cosmos is the fact that you don’t need any of those pesky base stations (those magic black boxes that do all the room tracking on the ordinary Vive) to set it up, thereby making it much easier to use and start messing about with.
It will also be the first Vive headset to make use of HTC’s newly announced Vive Reality System, which HTC helpfully describe as “an entirely new design experience for VR.” The accompanying bumpf doesn’t really make things any clearer, but it sounds like a new interface and tutorial system that will presumably do a better job of easing people into VR than the Vive does currently.
If it helps at all, VP of HTC Vive’s Creative Labs Drew Bamford described it thusly: “We want VR to feel less like launching apps and instead like stepping between worlds,” he said. Sure.
Admittedly, we don’t know much more about the Vive Cosmos than that at the moment. Apart from saying it exists, HTC haven’t named a price or set a date other than a vague point in 2019 just yet, but we might learn more once developer kits are made available sometime early this year.
If the Vive Cosmos wasn’t enough, HTC also announced the Vive Pro Eye, which is an updated version of their existing Vive Pro headset (which is very much a PC-based affair). Aimed more toward the professional VR user, the Vive Pro Eye adds integrated eye tracking to the mix, offering new levels of accessibility according to HTC such as gaze-oriented menu navigation and removing the need for controllers. It will launch sometime between April and July 2019.
For more news and hands on previews from this year's CES, check out our CES 2019 tag.