The internet caught fire earlier today as it appeared HTC Vive had won a design award for a product we've never seen before.
A lot of us - myself included - immediately assumed we'd just seen the serious 'business' the firm is set to reveal at VIVECON next month. Strangely, there's a little more to this story than first meets the eye...
I've been covering every single rumour that has come to light over the past few months about the long-anticipated, possibly-soon-to-be-announced HTC Vive standalone headset. But now... now I'm confused.
Earlier today, it was revealed that an HTC headset has won an iF World Design Guide award. Specifically designed for virtual fitness, the HTC Vive Air is a sporty, breathable headset with built-in ventilation and uber-comfortable padding.
Even more significantly, the website notes the "DATE OF LAUNCH" to be 2021, the "DEVELOPMENT TIME" to be 25 - 36 months, the "TARGET REGIONS" to be Asia, Europe, and North America, and the "TARGET GROUPS" to include 'VR Fitness'.
Naturally, that had us all saying:
Sadly, the answer is no. In a statement given to our friends over at UploadVR, HTC confirmed that the VIVE Air VR headset was simply a concept piece. That's right, it isn't even real.
“‘It’s exciting to see our concept piece, the VIVE Air VR headset, win an iF Design Award. While this is only a concept, the design language has elements and inspirations you’ll see elsewhere in our products. We’re not ones to rest on our laurels, so although it’s great to win this award, we have business to attend to – hopefully we’ll see you on 11/12 May at VIVECON.”
So don't fret - there is still something coming next month at VIVECON (notice the 'business' phraseology? Hmm.) Furthermore, it's interesting to note that the qualification - "the design language has elements and inspirations you'll see elsewhere in our products" - could be hinting at what next month's big release could look like.
Here is the full description of the concept piece:
VIVE Air VR headset is specially designed for virtual fitness, optimized for high intensity with long use. Inspired by sports shoes, the new headset introduces knitted materials to VR to provide unprecedented comfort and fit. The breathable and quick-drying fabrics improve ventilation in the heated exercise. The innovative lightweight structure allows users to forget the presence of the head-mounted display to focus on virtual content. The quick-release design allows the removal of ergonomic soft components for washing.
If you're not up to date, here's everything we know so far about next month's mystery release. After months of building hype, we now anticipate that HTC will announce a new HTC stand-alone all-in-one headset next month at their VIVECON 2021 event, taking place on the 11th and 12th of May. It might not be the HTC Vive Air, but it might still look good.
Of course, it all started with a series of mysterious Twitter close-ups, which led to the announcement of a bunch of new accessories. Then, to build up some hype, President of HTC Vive in China Alvin Wang Graylin announced that HTC was working on a new AIO ('All-in-One') VR Headset that would launch later this year.
Captioned 'Now that the accessories are out of the way, let's get down to business', HTC then began to tease something more substantial with another mysterious close-up. The close-up appeared to feature a Quest-like corner-mounted tracking camera, signifying a departure from previous Vive headsets.
So... I'm a little confused... but still really hyped. Be sure to keep it tuned to VRFinal for coverage of next month's VIVECON as it happens, and all the news & leaks that will be likely to drop beforehand.