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HTC Vive Focus Update Adds Tons of New Features

Vive Focus, HTC’s own VR headset was launched a year ago in China. Before the device is set to have its global release, the company has decided to add some new software upgrades to it. This announcement was made during the 2018 Vive Ecosystem Conference. The Vive Focus System Update 2.0 is now available to headset users. Its changes refer to the battery life of the device and smartphone integrations, among many others. Today we will give you a broad analysis of what these upgrades do and how stable are they at the moment.

Smartphone integration

During the conference, people heard about the smartphone integration upgrade. This has been created so that users would be able to receive messages, take calls and even look at social media notifications, all from the comfort of the Focus VR. The first phone to get the upgrade to this feature is HTC U12+. Shortly the rest of HTC smartphone users will get this update as well. It will be delivered through HTC’s and Tencent’s app stores.

Surroundings mode

Those of you who use your Vive Focus VR headset in a moving vehicle will have a blast hearing about this new mode. The surrounding mode will allow the user of the headset to see the outside world while still wearing the headset. This mode can be toggled by double clicking the power button. The effectiveness of this new mode was demonstrated by HTC’s China Regional President himself, Alan Wang Graylin, who did a catwalk back in March at Shanghai Fashion Week while wearing this headset.

Passenger mode

The second mode that comes with this update is called Passenger mode. What Passenger does is allow the VR headset user to enjoy the VR experience for four hours (a battery upgrade from the original three hours of runtime). It does this by toggling off the tracking constraints and the effects of vehicle movements while the user is wearing the VR headset. If that amount of runtime is still not enough, then you can very well plug in your device into a power bank and bask in the extra hours of fun.

Install apps on microSD card

When it comes to apps, this system update allows Focus to install new apps directly onto a microSD card. It can also now purchase apps from the Viveport store via major credit cards.

Stream games and videos

Another new software update is the fact that you are now able to stream SteamVR or Viveport content from your PC. You will be able to do this by using the Riftcat VRidge app with a 5GHz Wi-Fi connection. Speaking of streaming, HTC has teased the audience during the conference by saying that future updates would allow users to stream videos, apps, and even games from their HTC U12+ smartphone to the more prominent display of the VR headset.

External battery pack

The third quarter of 2018 holds promising new upgrades for Vive Focus headset owners. One of them is the fact that during this period a combination media storage device and an external battery pack are expected to come for the VR. Called the VR Power Drive, it will be optimized for Focus and almost double the battery life of the headset. The price and storage capacity has not yet been unveiled so we will still have to wait to find out what it will cost us.

Hand gesture tracking

HTC has teased fans that in the third quarter of this year they will see new upcoming features coming to the VR headset. We will be able to let the 3DoF controller act like a 6DoF device, mirror our smartphone to the headset and, most importantly, we will have hand gesture tracking with the help of the front cameras.

Some of the people that got around to testing out the basic hand gesture feature complained that it was a bit too rudimentary. They were expecting a live tracking feature, but they got a 2D cartoon representation of their hands instead. They were only allowed to perform five basic hand gestures, such as turning a page. However, at the moment this feature is just meant to show the potential of the API and encourage developers to choose what the hands are going to look like and experiment with features of their own.

Getting rid of the competition

The upcoming upgrades were only described by a video presentation. If they work out as advertised when they will be released, potential buyers would be even more tempted to purchase this headset. Moreover, HTC Vive Focus would be neck and neck with Google on the VR market. We are talking about Google’s Lenovo Mirage Solo, of course. We will have to wait and see what the future is going to hold for Vive Focus and what other features are going to be added. What we heard about is indeed promising.

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