HTC Vive Announces New Headsets and a Service It Hopes Will Become the ‘Netflix of VR’

The company wants to make virtual reality more accessible

HTC debuted the Vive Cosmos virtual reality headset on Monday at CES. HTC
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HTC wants to make sure virtual reality fans—or especially would-be fans—know that Oculus isn’t the only one coming out with a consumer-friendly headset sometime soon.

On Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company unveiled a number of new hardware and software products including the HTC Vive Cosmos, a VR headset that doesn’t require cords or external sensors. The device, which does not yet have an announced price or release date, seems to be similar in style to the upcoming Oculus Quest from Facebook. However, unlike the Quest, which comes with its own internal computing system, the Cosmos will still require a PC for operation with more mobile capabilities possible in the future.

“We found that over 85% of VR intenders believe that ease of use and set up is the most important factor to consider while purchasing a headset,” Daniel O’Brien, general manager of Americas for HTC Vive, said in a statement. “We believe Cosmos will make VR more easily accessible to those who may not have invested in VR before and also be a superior experience for VR enthusiasts.”

Along with the Cosmos, HTC also announced a more premium headset, the Vive Pro Eye, which is an upgrade from its current HTC Vive Pro headset but with built-in eye-tracking.

The news comes at the beginning of the massive annual trade show, where hundreds of thousands of people will descend on the Las Vegas Strip to preview technology that might or might not make it into consumers’ hands later this year. And while VR won’t be front-and-center compared to other emerging industries like 5G connectivity and the Internet of Things, it’s still a growing industry that will likely continue to saunter ahead this year.

HTC also announced several new software updates. For example, it announced the Viveport Infinity, a subscription service for VR content that the company hopes will become the “Netflix of VR.”

While the VR industry has been slow to catch on with mainstream consumers, more brands continue to experiment with the technology. On Monday, the company announced it’s making Mozilla’s Firefox its native VR browser, and is also tapping into Amazon’s Sumerian for creating and publishing VR websites. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is now using Vive’s eye tracking for its “MLB Home Run Derby VR” video game. This year, HTC is also expanding its partnership with other companies. HTC is even partnering with financial services firm Fidelilty to let customers view their investments using VR data visualizations alone or with an adviser or family member.

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.
Publish date: January 8, 2019 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT