HTC Vive Demo First Impressions

HTC and Valve announced their new VR Headset, the Vive, on Sunday. Since then demos have been provided to select press but asked to keep silent until Wednesday. Well, today is Wednesday. So how is the new HTC Vive?

Rather unique to the HTC Vive (so far) is the ability to see the 3D representation of the controllers that exist in the real world within the virtual world in the Vive headset. This allows the user to easily pick up the controller(s) without "lifting the headset to find it" we're all so familiar with in the DK2.

The controllers feature a number of inputs. On the back, you have a trigger button. On each side, it has big paddles that you can squeeze with your hands and each one has a touch-pad. Imagine the Valve Steam controller split into two.

So onto the demo.

The Vive demo consists of several demo scenes.

The first is a Matrix-like hexagonal tile demo intended to get the user accustomed to using the controllers and walking around the room. As you approach a wall in real life, a virtual wall is displayed in VR so you do not walk into the real wall.
The second is an underwater demo called "TheBlu: Encounter" by Wemo Lab. You start off standing on the deck of a shipwreck. Schools of fish swim around you and you can swipe at them by waving the controller. You can walk around the deck, and eventually a giant blue whale swims next to you. 

There a few more demos with controller interactions and some demos very similar to existing demos such as the drawing demo Tilt: Brush

The best demo is saved for last. Time for a trip to Valves Portal. 

Scene changes to the Aperture Science testing facility in a repair room. Voice overs are used to direct you towards some drawers to open several of them. Each one revealing something new from blueprint plans to mini people!
You're then directed to pull a lever which reveals two androids, Atlas and P-Body, lying on the floor broken and in desperate need of repair.

After many failed attempts at repairing Atlas it fell onto the floor, which then gave way and the room started to fall apart.
Demo over.

Key HTC Vive Technical Details During Demos

Motion Blur: None noticeable.
Latency:  None noticeable.
Ability to see representation of the controller within the HMD.
Resolution/Screen Door Effect: Yes, but refresh rate greatly improves the whole experience

The HTC Vive is certainly an exciting device with an actual release date. Combine this with their partnership with gaming giant Valve, essentially guaranteeing some decent software at launch. Valve already has their SteamVR platform (Hoping for HL3)

Given the end of year release date for Vive to consumers. Oculus still has time to make an announcement. I would be EXTREMELY surprised if this device is released and at that time we do not have a release date for the Oculus Rift Consumer Version (CV1)
I'll say it again, 2015 is the year of Virtual Reality.

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