Massive Vive Focus System Update Adds Phone Calls & ‘Surroundings Mode’

A host of game-changing features could put HTC’s 6DoF headset at the top of the stand-alone food chain.

Despite the fact it won’t be hitting consumers stateside until later this year, HTC’s answer to standalone VR, the Vive Focus, is already receiving a generous amount of updates and fixes for its strictly Chinese audience.

Revealed during the companies annual Vive Ecosystem Conference in Shenzhen, China earlier today, “System Update 2.0” for the Vive Focus adds a gamut of impressive features to the already-powerful 6DoF device. One of the most notable comes in the form of phone call, text message and social media integration that allows for seamless communication while strapped into VR. As of right now HTC’s recently-released U12+ is the only smartphone compatible with the new update, although the company has announced plans to eventually integrate a series of other HTC-brand models.

A new selection of various performance modes also add variation to the immersive experience. “Surroundings Mode” for instance utilizes the headsets two forward-facing cameras to provide a live view of the physical world in real-time. HTC Vive’s China Regional President Alvin Wang Graylin demonstrated this feature during yesterday’s event, walking throughout the stage while simultaneously engaged in a live phone call. “Passenger Mode” on the other hand deactivates certain headset trackers to deliver a simplified 3DoF experience – a life-saver when traveling on moving vehicles, which can often result in a noticable “drifting” while in VR.

Slightly less exciting, but noteworthy nonetheless, was the final confirmed update which now allows owners to save and install VR apps onto a MicroSD card, as opposed to strictly the devices internal memory.

As if these updates (all of which are available to Focus owners right now) weren’t enough, Vive also alluded to some truly incredible features on the horizon. The company revealed plans to eventually introduce basic hand gesture recognition, PC VR content streaming capabilities for SteamVR and Viveport, smartphone mirroring, and 6DoF tracking for 3DoF controllers via AI-simulation technology. There’s even talks of converting the U12+ smartphone itself into a 6DoF controller capable of replicating an in-game camera device, tablet, or a slew of other interactive devices.

These future updates, if accurate, would more-than-enough to place the Vive Focus at the forefront of the standalone VR market. The 6DoF experience immediately places the Oculus Go at a disadvantage, while additional features such as the ability to switch between 3DoF & 6DoF, basic hand-tracking recognition, as well as a simulated 6DoF controller experience would more than overshadow the capabilities of Lenovo’s Mirage Solo.

Either way, the updates released yesterday are already a massive improvement for the exciting new headset. No doubt the device will making waves when it becomes available worldwide later this year. 

Image Credit: Vive / Tom’s Hardware 

About the Scout

Former Writer (Kyle Melnick)

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