HTC announced a surprise partnership with Valve this morning, unveiling a new virtual reality headset called Vive during an event at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
The HTC Vive will deliver “the first room-scale experience,” said Jeff Gattis, HTC executive director of global marketing. The device uses 70 sensors for 360-degree tracking.
The device sets “a new benchmark for performance and comfort,” he said. “In other words, you’re not going to get sick.”
It’s based on Valve’s Steam VR platform, coming with a 90 Hz refresh rate, which matches the Oculus Crescent Bay prototype. It will work in conjunction with a pair of wireless controllers. Diagrams of the device are posted on the HTC Vive site.
HTC and Valve will face stiff competition, with companies ranging from Facebook-owned Oculus to Microsoft aiming to make their mark in virtual reality. But Valve, which runs the dominant Steam gaming platform for PCs, is in a unique position to tackle virtual reality because of its large customer base and existing content library. HTC says it’s also partnering with a variety of game companies and entertainment studios for content.
A developer edition of the device will be released in the spring. A consumer version will be released before the end of this year. Pricing wasn’t announced. Valve is also expected to discuss the device at the Game Developers Conference this week in San Francisco.
Valve and HTC’s North American division are both based in Bellevue, Wash., making it a convenient partnership from a geographic perspective.
Also at the event, HTC confirmed the new HTC One M9 Android phone, the latest upgrade to its smartphone line, with a 20 megapixel camera. It’s the latest effort by the company to rebound in the smartphone market, where it faces stiff competition from Android leader Samsung (which is slated to unveil its new Samsung Galaxy S6 later today).
The company also unveiled a new fitness band, the HTC Grip, in partnership with Under Armour — notable in part because HTC is not going with Google’s Android Wear platform for the device. The Grip works in conjunction with both Android and iOS devices, integrating with the UA Record social network. It will be available starting this spring in North America. Pricing hasn’t yet been announced.