HTC has updated its excellent but expensive Vive Focus 3 business-focused headset with a much larger play area, WiFi 6E and more, the company announced. The software update comes with no change in hardware as HTC "secretly built in the 6E required hardware from Day 1," tweeted HTC's global head of hardware products, Shen Ye.
You also don't need new hardware. We secretly built in the 6E required hardware from day 1 😬. They're going through certification right now and we'll begin eabling as soon as they get approved.
— Shen Ye (@shen) November 11, 2021
WiFi 6E capability brings a "wide range of benefits," according to Vive. That includes low latency and higher bandwidth for VR streaming with less WiFi interference. The wider frequency range also allows double the number of devices with their own dedicated channels. The headsets already had the hardware needed for the standard, "so there's no added cost to the headset owner to leverage this functionality," the company said.
Vive also introduced a feature called Location Based Entertainment (LBE) mode, designed for businesses that use the Focus 3 headset. It increases the size of the play area from a 15m x 15m space (225 square meters or 2,422 square feet) to 33m x 33m (1,089 square meters or 11,722 square feet). That's the size of four tennis courts, compared to a size just under a tennis court, the company noted.
On top of the increased area, you can create a boundary in any custom shape like a polygon or L-shape. You'll only need to do that once, as the Focus 3 will "constantly re-localize in the known play area." The new setting is designed to create large spaces for "VR arcade, arena experiences or large training areas," according to HTC.
The update also includes Map Sharing, a feature that allows accurate co-location tracking among multiple users in a shared space. Other types of headsets that use outside-in tracking (rather than inside-out like the Focus 3), require "users to carry a PCVR backpack and play in a limited space with the Lighthouse system," HTC notes. With the Focus 3, Map Sharing and LBE, "users can finally run around in the field, provide cover for each other in shooting games or share their different perspectives in escape games," HTC said.
Other features include a Visual Odometery (VO) mode that lets you skip the usual 5-minute environment setup, an LBE Hybrid Mode that uses both VO and LBE for 6DoF tracking, and a Space Calibrator that allows accessories like a tennis racket to be more accurately tracked. The updates are now available — for more, check out Vive's blog post.