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Whist it is expected that 2016 will be the year of virtual reality, it is hard to predict which headset will dominate the consumer market in the next 12 months. From the solid Samsung Gear VR to the increasingly promising Oculus Rift (not to mention Microsoft’s entirely unique, augmented reality headset the HoloLens), the market offers a range of diverse options and huge levels of competition.
In terms of gauging which device will reign supreme in the near-term future, however, the recent CES 2016 event may have provided us with an answer. It was here that the thrilling HTC Vive made its long-awaited début, following 12 months of intense work and refinement that was required to ensure that it was ready for a widespread launch in 2016.
During this time, HTC’s flagship VR headset has been retooled and blessed with a sleeker, more slim-line design, while it has also been re-badged temporarily as the intriguingly named Vive Pre. The reason for this is that it is still in the final stages of development, and therefore only currently available for developers to review and create a range of fitting games for the platform. The improvements that have been made are as impressive as they are evident, however, meaning that the new technology undoubtedly has the potential to establish the HTC Vive as the seminal VR headset in the next year.
Let’s start with the base stations, for example, which can now be placed on the wall to help the user map the spaces in which they can operate in 3D. These stations are also considerably smaller, while they are equipped with wireless capacity for ease of use. In addition to this, the accompanying headset has also been revised, so that it now features additional straps to help drive a comfortable and enhanced VR experience. The same principle has been applied to the application of foam around the eyes and the adjustment of the nose clip, which have been changed to make prolonged period of use and interaction more realistic.
Interestingly, the device controllers have also received something of an upgrade, offering a wider range of tools and a sleeker design for developers to work with. The touch-pads remain but have been altered so that players can click individual buttons, while the addition of a rear trigger has two stages and allows for far greater interaction with individual games. This will have positive connotations for online gaming and those who like to roulette free (or similar titles) in particular, as it will be far easier to interact with dealers and fellow players in real-time.
The cumulative effect of these changes is impressive, while it goes a long way to explain why some experts are heralding the HTC Vive as the future of gaming. Keeps your eyes peeled for announcement on this, as we can perhaps expect a launch towards the end of this year or early next.