‘Big technology breakthrough’ blends physical and virtual reality

Latest HTC Vive Pre dev kit includes front-facing camera

The ‘big technology breakthrough’ that led to the delay of Valve’s Vive VR headset is a front-facing camera.

Well, actually, it’s a little bit more than that. Revealed by hardware partner HTC at CES, the latest version of the peripheral, dubbed the ‘Vive Pre’, aims to counteract one of VR’s biggest challenges – separation from real life.

The new integrated camera is designed to allow users a peek back into their real-world surroundings. By pressing a button on a controller, physicals objects such as tables and chairs will be ‘ghosted’ into the virtual gameplay. This should help users avoid tripping over or bumping into objects should they find their immersion a little too gripping.

The camera isn’t the only change in the new technology. The Vive’s controllers have also been redesigned, boasting a more comfortable design and a new dual-stage trigger to give a more realistic level of interaction with virtual objects. Integrated rechargeable batteries provide four hours of charge.

The Vive’s base stations have also had a makeover, shrinking in size and improving their ability to track the headset and controllers.

On the inside of the helmet – which itself has been tweaked for better comfort – an updated strap design and swappable foam inserts help to give a better fit.

Its displays have also been updated, with brighter displays and increased clarity.

The Vive is set for consumer release later this year.

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