HTC Vive's metaverse vision includes safeguards for children

Vive Guardian can prevent kids from getting into virtual trouble.


HTC's VR strategy will extend well beyond using car rides as theme parks. The company has outlined Viverse, its vision for a metaverse, and it's promising to protect children from virtual dangers in the process. Viverse itself isn't so much a holistic space so much as an "open ecosystem" joining multiple platforms together. You could socialize in VRChat, hold business meetings in Engage, collaborate in Vive Sync and unwind with "holographic" concerts in Beatday.

HTC's day-in-the-life conceptual video suggests Viverse would also be full of plenty of metaverse buzzwords. You would exercise with AR fitness data, buy wine at a virtual tasting with cryptocurrency and browse NFT art (including the "Meowna Lisa," naturally). As UploadVR explains, though, HTC's teaser is an unusual mix of real products with purely imagined scenarios, and no practical way to link them all besides what looks like a gateway app. The company is also optimistic about the adoption of this technology — there's no NFT backlash or cryptocurrency legal headaches in this virtual world.

The parental controls might be of more value. HTC is introducing a Vive Guardian app to protect the privacy and safety of kids (and concerned adults) in VR spaces. A "Free Mode" lets you grant access to specific apps and content that children can explore on their own terms. Choose "Broadcast," however, and you can limit young ones to specific experiences (such as apps and TV shows) beamed from the companion app on your Android phone or tablet. You can see what your children are using, and they'll need permission to download content or make purchases.

Vive Guardian will be available on Google Play and Viveport, although it wasn't listed as of this writing. It will support Vive Focus, Vive Focus Plus and Vive Flow headsets.

The existence of safeguards isn't surprising when other metaverse operators have had to restrict content. Meta introduced personal boundaries in Horizon Worlds and Venues to discourage harassment, while Microsoft shut down AltspaceVR's social hub following problems with harassers. It's just a question of whether or not HTC's efforts are enough to protect users — it's not clear that you can fence off every potential threat in a given VR environment.

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