The smartphone maker has partnered with the Valve game editor to create a virtual reality helmet of a new kind. The effect is amazing.

One of the most impressive demonstrations of the Mobile World Congress was held in private. HTC has invited some media to try the virtual reality helmet, Vive, he unveiled last Sunday in Barcelona. These headphones are designed in association with Valve video game publisher. This is certainly the best virtual reality experience that we have been able to experience.

The demonstration takes place in a room with white walls, about three meters by two. The visitor is invited to don the helmet resting on a stool in the middle of the room. The machine is connected by a handful of cables to a computer controlled by a demonstrator, as well as audio headphones and two joysticks, which must be taken in each hand. A strap must be fastened around the hips, so that the weight of the cables does not cause the head back. This gives the impression of sailing until a medical examination. The following is a different story. Move in virtual worlds

Inside the Helmet

Inside the Helmet


The principle of virtual reality is to completely obscure the vision to induce the illusion of a new reality. Once the floor helmet on and earphones, we are left out of touch. It reminds that offers the Oculus Rift helmet, bought by Facebook. These helmets can discover new worlds from home. We can reproduce the visual illusion of being on a roller coaster or the coast funds. The field is wide enough to give the impression of being able to watch all around.

Long live the headset pushes the experience much further, since it becomes possible to move oneself in the virtual world. The demonstration is equipped, in two of its corners, terminals that emit lasers. This helps to identify in real time the position of the wearer of the helmet, and lever in his hand. So when you move a few steps, we evolve in the same path in the virtual world. The helmet is equipped with sensors to be recognized wherever we are, like the Sony Morpheus Project, which works on the same principle. In the case of Oculus, there is no recognition of the human body. Do not move that operating a joystick on a gamepad.


The proposed demonstrations are striking. The first takes us on the bow of a boat stranded in the seabed. The fish swim around. Waving hands, they déguerpissent. Run if suddenly a whale just before the reflex is back several steps to pass. To prevent hitting walls, real, demonstration room, the limits not to cross is marked with a blue grid.





The second demo is a drawing application. The levers that we take in each hand turn into brushes and paint bombs. Several tools are available, and a full palette of colors. The forms that come brushes float in the air, so that we can move all around them, cross them and watch them from all points of view. In the future it will be possible to share these creations with friends and invite them into the worlds that we have created.

The third demonstration is the most impressive. This is a scene inspired by the game Portal, Valve. The player, confined in the laboratory of a futuristic world, must perform several simple actions (open drawers, pull a lever) to advance. We move his arms and it triggers the actions through the gates of the levers, more comprehensive than Sony. In one of the scenes are asked to repair a robot. The operation does not take place so well than expected, and the ground begins to give way beneath our feet. We must then put away and stick against the walls. The effect is amazing and it feels no seasickness or eyestrain.

Sold by the end of the year

HTC and Valve have designed a dozen of such demonstrations. They allow a glimpse of the potential of this helmet, that enables you to move 360 ​​degrees in virtual worlds. We imagine applications in video games, but why not also for shows, shopping and education. The helmet could also be embellished with a microphone and a voice recognition system to amplify the effect of immersion.

HTC and Valve will deliver a development kit from next month, so that developers invent applications around the helmet. The Vive should be sold by the end of the year. Until then, it will be lightened and miniaturized, and most of the cables between the need to have disappeared. However, it should always be connected to a computer and surrounded by two laser transmitters. If one does not want to let go of his helmet at the end of the thirty minutes of demonstration, the time has not come yet where we can spend the whole day immersion in virtual worlds.