HTC may have delayed the release of its upcoming Vive virtual reality headset until April, but it's been busy in the meantime. Its second VR development kit, called the Vive Pre, was unveiled this morning. The company says this new kit will be going out to developers shortly.
The big change for the Vive Pre is a front-facing camera integrated with the headset. Users will get a button on the system's hand controllers to switch to the camera, allowing them to interact with the real world without taking off the Vive.
The Verge reports that HTC uses the front-facing camera to alert users when they're stepping or reaching outside of the Vive's tracking space. When they do, they are presented with a black and teal rendering of their real environment. The camera should allow developers to implement some interesting ways of interacting with the world, as well, blurring the boundaries between virtual reality and augmented reality devices.
HTC has also been working on the controllers and the "lighthouse" base stations. The new controllers are purportedly more ergonomic and balanced, and now run on lithium polymer batteries that can run four hours on a single charge. The base stations are now smaller and quieter, and the company says it's also improved hand tracking with this release. HTC also implemented something they call Mura correction. They wouldn't tell Tom's Hardware many details, but described it as a technique to improve the clarity of the display.
As a bonus, here's a video published by HTC today. Is it just me, or do they basically confirm Portal 3 at 0:52?