Cutting the virtual reality cord. Pre-orders start today.
In a significant breakthrough for room-scale VR, HTC has introduced a tether-less VR upgrade kit for the Vive system at Alibaba’s “11/11” global shopping festival.
The HTC Vive is a PC-powered system, which means there is a long cord running from the headset to your PC system. Being tethered to the PC has been one of the more common complaints to high-end VR—often forgiven once you are actually immersed in an experience—but cutting that cord is going to make things way more comfortable and convenient.
The upgrade kit was developed by Vive X Accelerator invested company TPCAST, who was in the first batch of startups to join Vive X when the doors opened this past summer. The tether-less upgrade kit was available for pre-order at 1,499 RMB ($220) in limited quantity on www.vive.com/cn, starting at 11pm Beijing time on November 11. Order fulfillment will be prioritized to existing customers who can provide a valid Vive serial number. Initial delivery is expected to begin Q1 2017.
In addition to unveiling the tether-less add-on, HTC demonstrated Alibaba’s new Buy+ mobile VR channel on the latest HTC-powered VR-ready smartphones to 600 journalists gathered from all over the globe. According to HTC, this is the first application to date that allows the completion of actual retail transactions fully in VR.
HTC Vive and Alibaba have previously announced strategic partnerships relating to Cloud services and VR, as well as Video services cooperation with its Youku subsidiary. Today’s joint VR demonstration continues to solidify the collaboration between the two companies to deliver immersive shopping experiences.
“We are glad to cooperate with Alibaba to enable the first mass-demonstration of a complete VR shopping experience and are honored that they have chosen Viveport M as the preferred download partner for the Buy+ mobile application,” said Alvin W. Graylin, China Regional President of Vive, HTC. “We are also very proud that a Vive X team, TPCAST, has developed such an impactful product in such a short time. It will allow Vive customers worldwide to gain untethered mobility in VR from their existing devices, while satisfying the biggest feature request of potential PC VR customers.”