HTC Unveils Next Generation of Business Virtual Reality Hardware at ViveCon 2021
Looking at VR’s rise during the pandemic
The original HTC Vive virtual reality (VR) headset was released in 2016, a year that saw numerous VR announcements and releases. This led some…overly optimistic…people to declare that VR would take off dramatically, change the world, and completely penetrate the consumer market within five years. You know, like the home computer did when it was first released in 1981, or the smartphone in 1994. Six years later and many have dismissed VR as a fad, a momentary flare-up in social consciousness, but still decades away from making any real impact. Those people could be described as…overly pessimistic. At its 2021 ViveCon virtual event, HTC showed just how far VR has come in five years and why businesses should already be paying attention.
The Vive Focus 3 and Vive Business
While HTC made several announcements, including the reveal of the Vive Pro 2, we’re going to focus on two particular reveals: the new all-in-one VR headset, the Vive Focus 3, and HTC’s new business-dedicated software platform, dubbed Vive Business. Each marks a significant step forward by HTC to better serve an enterprise space where VR is increasingly in demand.
As you can see in the above video, from a technology standpoint, the Vive Focus 3 looks flashy. It has 2,448 x 2,448 pixel resolution per eye, refreshes at 90 hz, and sports a 120° diagonal field of view (FOV). That’s a lot of numbers with a bit of jargon, so here’s what it means: The Vive Focus 3 gives its user a lot of virtual space to look at, and that virtual space looks crisp and runs smooth. While the video shows graphics and experiences that may resemble those of video games, the Vive Focus 3 has been designed “from the ground up” with business uses in mind. The higher resolution and faster frame refresh rate mean that users will be able to see finite details (like, say, a small component of a new printer during the design process) without having to lean their heads super close to it. Movement will also feel smoother and easier, allowing for interactions to happen with less stutter.
HTC has angled significantly toward the business space, and further showcased this commitment by announcing not just new enterprise-oriented hardware, but software solutions as well—chief among them, the Vive Business software platform. Vive Business has been designed as a complete suite of XR services (meaning augmented and mixed reality solutions are likely available, as well) that is secure, scalable, and intuitive. HTC stressed this during the unveiling: they want this to be a solution that people without any previous VR experience can easily use, and have designed accordingly.
Vive Business includes the Vive Business Device Management System, an ISO-certified program that will allow an organization’s IT department to have an overview of all registered VR devices. Further, it will allow said staff to remotely install or update apps, as well as perform a variety of other functions. Much in the way that print fleet management solutions are designed today, the Vive Business Device Management System has been created for a very similar purpose: to easily ensure that the hardware investment is being utilized effectively toward increasing productivity and driving revenue.
The Vive Business software platform also includes Vive Business Training, providing users with support to multiple training sessions centered around XR use. Managers can see each users’ progress in real-time, allowing them to provide feedback and outline specific next steps for that employee. As with everything else, it is designed to be scalable. HTC claimed this feature could support a class size of hundreds if need be.
Why the Print Industry Should Pay Attention to VR
Truthfully, VR did not set the world on fire in 2016. The technology has enjoyed modest gains in the last five years as new developments have made hardware lighter, more comfortable, longer lasting, and more powerful. This latest movement to “break away” from the wires of tethered headsets to all-on-one devices is certainly important, as it greatly increases of the freedom of VR and will allow more operations to be performed without fear of tripping or tangling oneself.
For print, VR may still look like futuristic science fiction—nice for other industries, but not important to print. The reality is that XR is going to one day be an entirely new communication medium, one that will likely impact the world (at least as much as the home computer or smartphone did). In other words, it will be an event that reshapes everyday personal and professional experiences.
In a more remote, digital landscape, VR unlocks a lot of potential when it comes to online collaboration. We did a podcast last year where we interviewed Glue – a company developing such a VR platform, and they are far from alone. VR remote collaboration is one of the driving business applications pushing the technology forward.
Another is training—particularly specialized training. Print is one of many industries facing specialized talent shortages and training new employees is a costly, time-intensive process. Training in VR greatly reduces the cost and time needed for employees to learn new skills. Numerous studies in this area have shown VR to be an incredible teaching tool as it stimulates the brain far more than reading instructions or watching a video.
Lastly, VR can be used in the design process. Picture R&D departments across the globe meeting regularly to preview developing hardware. They can run these machines and see internal workings in real-time, all without having to buy a plane ticket. Use cases in the automotive space have shown VR reducing the product development cycle by roughly 50%, and that was within its first year of implementation.
The fact remains that VR is not just a niche gaming application. It is a way to meet, interact, and test solutions with colleagues that simply was not possible before. Given its exponential growth during the pandemic, many companies are starting to see its value. Print should ensure it is not left behind.
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