Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

Picture for the article titled HTC's new VR headset leaked and it's the weirdest look yet

Even if you put aside its decidedly bug-eyed look, the sleek HTC Vive Flow is an amazing headset. By all accounts, it should be a standalone consumer VR unit made for activities such as meditation and media streaming. It also will reportedly come up with its own bid on metaverse. In a somewhat remote feature, this kind of device may be the norm. Right now, it sounds awfully much like it does not know what exactly it should be.

These first details about this device appeared from a Protocol report Earlier this week. Then Productive Gorgeous Evan Blass tweeted a series of photos revealing what the HTC Vive Flow looks like, its priced at $ 499 and as it would be shipped from November. Flow, although standalone, also appears to be attached to some of these photos on some of these photos to be attached to some sort of cylindrical device. In others, it seems rely on your smartphone as a Bluetooth controller and for phone-to-VR streaming. It jives with the protocol report that says the headset does not come with any controllers and will have a chipset that is less powerful than that in Oculus Quest 2.

So in other words games and others processor-intensive activities it becomes impossible. OKAY. Well, presumably this thing has a metaverse called Viveport Verse. The protocol claims that this metaverse will include avatars and cross-device functionality, while exploring a “series of events”. Viveport Verse apparently contains an NFT showroom? Somehow this thing also supports user-generated content. All on a not very powerful sounding chipset, and with content that has been recycled from Mozilla’s Hubs VR project.

This is a lot. In fact, it sounds like all the latest buzzwords in the wearables and mixed reality space were smeared together, run through a blender and then dusted with a sprinkle of NFT. On its own, each of Flow’s individual components can make sense. It is far from the only company exploring a kind of portable home theater. Of course, Facebook has cornered the standalone game VR space with Oculus and has invested heavily in VR fitness. (It has also cursed us with the concept of one “metaverse” to begin with.) Wearables and healthcare companies have spent the past year focusing on features that emphasize wellness, mindfulness, and recovery. But together, these features and hardware do not seem to fit together. What does an NFT showroom have to do with a leaked image? “well-being and mindful productivity?” What should a person do with just “7 free VR content”?

When I read all this, I am amazed at it WHO this headset is for. Who is the wealthy, wellness-minded, early adopter who would lower $ 499 for a VR ecosystem that has not yet proven its strength? Who besides technical reviewers would be interested in one “relaxed” VR device that costs $ 200 more than the well-established competition? It would be one thing if HTC positioned this as an affordable, lightweight headset that did a few things well. Maybe if this might have been a business-oriented entity that focused solely on the metaverse aspect. Or a casual gaming system launched with a decent catalog of titles and a meditation app. But as it turns out, we are confused.

Nor does it take into account how ridiculous this thing looks. To be fair, no VR headset “looks cool,“But this headset is downright silly. Despite the leaked lifestyle photos, I am almost certain that I can guarantee that no one will carry the HTC Vive Flow to bed. And when it comes to meditation, the Calm app is $ 70 a year, has a large content library and is available directly on your phone. Most of what is presented here can be found elsewhere for less money, greater convenience and significantly less teasing.

It is not that mixed reality is doomed. On the contrary – almost all technology companies out there are convinced that this is the future. Facebook just dropped its “smart” glasses in partnership with Ray-Ban, Apple is rumored to be working on a pair, just like Samsung, and Google and Microsoft have been out here for years carving their own niche in mixed reality business space. Somehow, Magic Leap found another $ 500 million in financing and is barrels forward with another headset. Razer, Bose and a bunch of smaller brands are also putting out their own sunglasses. Like it or not, virtual and augmented reality happens. Someone will one day crack the winning combination of hardware, software and utensils.

But every company in this room faces the same problems: how to stand out from the crowd and how to convince the average person that this is better than the devices they already have. In either case, the HTC Vive Flow is probably the funniest VR headset we’ve seen in some time. But the Vive Flow is going to need more than just a distinctive design to convince people that it’s worth buying without impressive features.

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