The best virtual-reality experience just got better, as HTC and Valve have announced the latest version of their Vive headset developer kit, the Vive Pre. It’s the final developer kit HTC and Valve will show off before the commercial release of the Vive in April.
The big new: The new Vive comes equipped with a front-facing camera that lets you see what’s going on in the world around you without forcing you to take off the headset.
The Vive is unique in that it uses two laser-emitting boxes positioned in your room to track where the headset is. It uses input from those boxes to incorporate your movements into the game you’re playing.
Walking around with what is essentially a mask over your eyes is a bit unsafe. That’s why the Vive has a built-in “chaperone” system that presents a gridlike wall in the game whenever you get too close to a real-life one. The new front-facing camera also lets you see basic shapes of objects in your room that you might bump into while wearing the Vive.
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The Vive Pre also gets a lighter design and replaceable gaskets (the rubber things that go around the headset and actually touch your face). It turns out a single gasket doesn’t fit all faces. With replaceable gaskets, the Vive will be more comfortable for more people, especially those who wear glasses.
HTC says the new Vive Pre also comes with lighter, more balanced wireless controllers that now last four hours on a single charge.
Then there’s the Vive’s new display, which Valve and HTC say is brighter and crisper. There’s also a Mura correction feature that eliminates the “dirty window” effect that afflicts most VR headset displays.
The new developer kit brings new features to the Vive that developers can incorporate into their apps and games. It also gives HTC and Valve a chance to see what kind of things developers can do with the Vive.
HTC and Valve say they’ll be providing 7,000 new Vive Pre units to developers this year, which means we’ll hopefully see a host of innovative ways to use the headset.
Check out our hands-on with the latest version of the Vive below.
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