HTC Vive is getting set to release a fitness-focused VR headset called the Vive Air, according to a leak from the World Design Guide awards. It looks to offer a lightweight, comfortable design with up to four tracking cameras — much like the Oculus Quest series, but with larger optics.
According to the Design Guide description, the Vive Air is "specially designed for virtual fitness, optimized for high intensity with long use." To that end, it uses knitted materials inspired by running shoes that are breathable and quick-drying for better ventilation during heated exercise. It also features a quick-release design so you can easily pull off the soft components to wash them.
Training and active games like Beat Saber have been some of the biggest (and frankly, few) successes for VR. It's particularly compelling for boxing, dance and other fitness programs since it immerses you in a 3D environment where you can more easily see how to do moves. It also makes exercise more fun, adding measurable extra enjoyment compared to using music alone, according to one study.
To that end, a dedicated VR fitness headset that's light, easy to wash and with better tracking capability makes a lot of sense. If HTC plans to release the device (which seems likely) it's not clear if it will introduce other fitness accessories as well. However, it's likely to reveal the new model and more details at ViveCon 2021 on May 11th and 12th of this year.
Update, Tuesday April 20th, 9:21am ET: An HTC spokesperson has shared the following statement, saying that the design is "only a concept" which contains elements that we'll see in future HTC products.
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.