HTC’s Prototype Vive Focus Controllers Look Strangely Familiar

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When it comes to designing a controller for a virtual reality (VR) head-mount display (HMD) which features inside-out tracking, there’s one design that’s proven to be almost universal. If you follow VR news with any regularity you’ll know what this design looks like. Commercially seen for the first time in conjunction with Windows Mixed Reality (WMR) headsets, at CES 2019 this week VRFocus came across the prototype pair of controllers for HTC’s standalone headset, Vive Focus.

Vive Focus is the company’s standalone headset that’s currently only available in China. While the headset has 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF), the supplied controller is only 3DoF – much like the Oculus Go controller.

But HTC Vive has been working on a 6DoF version, which AMD had on demonstration with an HTC Vive Focus to showcase its ReLive livestreaming technology.

With the big tracking hoop over the knuckles that has become synonymous with inside-out tracked controllers (WMR, Oculus Quest, HTC Vive Cosmos), the rest of the design isn’t exactly anything special. As you can see from the images, there are trigger and grip buttons underneath, whilst on top, there was a touchpad and two unmarked, side by side buttons, one raised, one indented, most likely for Home and Menu buttons.As they were being demoed by AMD, specs weren’t available, or how far through development these prototypes were. They felt comfortable enough, not too light and unwieldy. One important issue is that of tracking, especially in frantic titles like Space Pirate Trainer. This certainly didn’t seem to cause an issue for the prototypes, not once was the tracking lost that one of the flying robots couldn’t be shot at. Yet, Space Pirate Trainer really only has the action concentrated in a 180-degree arc, how well they’d hold up in a 360 title is another matter.

This is down to the Vive Focus’ two front-facing cameras doing the tracking, providing a reasonably wide tracking area. These definitely lack the style and flair for the recently announced HTC Vive Cosmos controllers, which have a lightning style design around the hoop for tracking purposes.

These are just prototypes, however, so VRFocus will be keeping a close eye on development as Vive Focus looks towards a western launch.

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