Viveport Verse: A Brief Introduction

There’s been a lot of buzz about a new, standalone VR headset which Vive is going to announce on October 14th, 2021, called the Vive Flow. Scott Hayden of Road to VR reports:

HTC is serial-teasing its next VR headset again, this time hyping the reveal of Vive Flow, which is reportedly a slim and light 6DOF standalone focused on media consumption, casual gaming, and VR experiences.

New information reported by Protocol ahead of its October 14th reveal holds that HTC will be likely targeting consumers with the new lightweight Vive Flow headset, something that is said to contain a chipset less powerful than the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 found in Quest 2 and Vive Focus 3.

Reportedly developed under the code name “Hue,” Protocol maintains it will also ship without motion controllers, instead relying primarily on its built-in hand-tracking to control apps and casual VR games.

But what really caught my eye was this piece of news buried at the very end of Scott’s report:

HTC may also be banking on integration with a rumored social VR service called ‘Viveport Verse’, which sounds like the company’s own stab at building out its own metaverse platform.

So, I did a little Internet sleuthing, and found this UploadVR article by David Heaney, just published a few hours ago:

HTC is working on a customized version of Mozilla Hubs with a persistent social layer, Protocol reports.

HTC already has a business-focused social VR platform called Vive Sync, but the report says it’s now working on a consumer platform called Viveport Verse…

Rather than starting its metaverse ambitions from scratch, HTC is apparently building on Mozilla’s open source Hubs platform. Hubs runs on WebXR, so users can access it on any platform and don’t need to install or update an app.

now-deleted unlisted HTC webpage pitched Viveport Verse as letting users “meet people around the world” and “explore a variety of events, from virtual tourism and exhibitions to sports events and festivals”. It also listed potential future features including NFT integration and user generated content.

The report says HTC is working with open-source distributed social network Mastodon to experiment with adding “a persistent social layer” to Verse, but notes it’s unclear how exactly that would work.

It sounds like Viveport Verse is still early in development, but it could be designed to take on Facebook’s Horizon Worlds. 

In fact, Viveport Verse is so new that I can’t even find any pictures of it (yet), aside from this image used in David’s UploadVR report (also used in the original Protocol news report):

The Protocol article by Janko Roettgers, which first broke the Vive Flow news, adds a few more details to the little that is currently known about Viveport Verse:

The service is designed to be accessible via VR headsets as well as mobile devices and desktop computers, and will feature some sort of NFT tie-in. It will also allow people to create their own content, as well as upload 3D objects from services like Sketchfab. Verse is “an open space for users to generate rooms and 3D objects – create your own spaces with friends or an entire world,” according to the staging site.

So, stay tuned…it looks like we might see a new social VR platform launched soon! I will duly add Viveport Verse to my comprehensive listing of social VR and virtual worlds.

The VIVE Focus 3 Standalone VR Headset: A First Look

I received an email announcing that VIVE has released their new standalone virtual reality headset, called the VIVE Focus 3. This is the first major standalone headset which is not part of the Facebook/Oculus ecosystem, which means that you do not have to sign up for an account on the Facebook social network in order to use it—in my books, a major selling point!

This headset, which is intended for the corporate market, retails for UD$1,300 (which works out to $1,750 Canadian dollars due to our lamentable exchange rate).

The Vive Focus 3 product page on the VIVE website gives some examples of use cases for this new standalone headset (which can also be used as a PCVR headset with the addition of an appropriate cable to your gaming PC):

Mike from the Virtual Reality Oasis has already reviewed the VIVE Focus 3 in this 15-minute YouTube video:

In this video, he discusses whether or not the Focus 3 is any good for gaming, and compares it with the Oculus Quest 2. He loves the design of the product, and says it took only 10 minutes to get up and running. Mike notes a few of the limitations of this headset (notably, a noisy fan and a very small sweet spot for the lenses), and says that, in his opinion, “it’s just not ready for consumers”.

Cas and Chary also reviewed the VIVE Focus 3 in the following 15-minute video:

Like Mike, Cas and Chary note the high-quality design, the removable, swappable 26.6Wh Lithium-Polymer Gel battery, the expandable memory slot (128 GB / 8 GB with support up to 2TB microSD), and the excellent hand tracking. I am also happy to note that both reviews mention that glasses will fit into the VIVE Focus 3 headset!

Again, the major market for the Focus 3 is the business market, and it is a rather expensive standalone headset for consumer use, especially compared to the Oculus Quest 2, a product which I have been told Facebook sells at a loss (no doubt hoping to recoup the investment on games and app sales in the Oculus Store).

I’m sorely tempted to buy, but I think I will wait for version 2 of this headset (or perhaps, another non-Facebook standalone product, like the Pico Neo 3?) before I decide to purchase a replacement for my trusty Oculus Quest 1 headset, which is currently sitting in its box, waiting to be mailed to my sister-in-law in Alberta for use in her work with developmentally-challenged adults. I’ll stick with my beloved Valve Index for now! 😉