HTC’s plans to spread its wings beyond its high-end Vive headset have been bolstered with the surprise launch of a new device in Japan.
UploadVR reports that the HTC Link is compatible with the company’s new U11 smartphone. It promises full 6DOF tracking (six degrees of freedom), which has not been seen with any smartphone-based VR solution until now.
It also seems that the Link doesn’t require the Lighthouse emitters supplied with the Vive. Vive owners must position these at adjacent corners of their play space, ideally mounted on a wall or tripod. The Oculus Rift also uses external sensors, while PlayStation VR owners are required to use a PS4 camera.
Removing the need for such devices is seen as a crucial step for VR as it looks to both lower cost and barriers to accessibility.
Oddly, unlike other smartphone solution such as Google Daydream or the Samsung Gear VR, the Link doesn’t appear to use the U11’s screen for a display. Instead it houses its own twin 1080×1200 pixel 90Hz LCD panels.
It also looks as if, for the time being at least, the HTC Link is only pencilled in for the Japanese market, with HTC confirming that there are no plans for an international release. It also emphasised that the Link should not be considered part of the Vive family.
Google last week announced that it has partnered with HTC to develop a new virtual reality headset that will work as standalone device. That will not require external sensors either.
We have been working closely with developers and consumers to define the best VR experiences over the past few years, and are perfectly positioned to deliver the most premium standalone headset and user experience," Vive said.
More information on Vive’s standalone VR headset will be made available soon, but rest assured it will be simple, easy-to-use and with no cables to connect. Just pick it up, put it on and be fully immersed in your new reality.”