New HTC Vive headset with enhanced ‘design factor, performance’ is on the way

After only having been on sale for a few months, HTC may be gearing up to show off an updated model of their Vive virtual reality headset.

In a discussion regarding the company’s future virtual reality plans, Rikard Steiber, SVP of Virtual Reality at HTC, told TechCrunch that updated Vive virtual reality headsets are on the way, ones that would likely see form factor updates.

Steiber revealed that many of the experiences it is planning in regards to its VR arcade strategy in China and Taiwan will require enhanced arcade-style peripherals (e.g. steering wheels, weapons) but he also detailed that HTC would be rolling out new higher-end Vive headsets with enhanced “design factor” and “performance” at the locations.

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The executive was coy on details but seemed to infer that the headset update would be an iterative one, simply saying, “It’s going to evolve.”

Whether the new higher-end headsets being rolled out at the arcade locations will be second-generation consumer Vive headsets or more of a custom solution is unclear. Additionally, the timing of an announcement is unknown though a report from The China Post suggested that HTC was working on a “sleeker” updated Vive headset to be released in early 2017.

The HTC Vive was released in April of this year for $799 after months of pre-orders and has received generally positive reception from the early adopter and developers within the VR community. HTC has been tight-lipped on units sold but an HTC executive commented last month that the unit sales “far exceeds” 140 thousand headsets. The PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift have both been released this year as well, but there has been little discussion regarding when the next wave of these higher-end VR headsets will hit the market.

“This is year one as far as this set of virtual reality experiences go,” Steiber told me. “I think with the amount of innovation going on in the space and the amount of players coming into the space, I do think that innovation cycles will be sort of annual.”

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