HTC Gives Vive Wireless Upgrade And Alibaba Virtual Reality Shop

HTC is keen to keep pushing ahead with its virtual reality technology

HTC is boosting the scope of its virtual reality (VR) tech with a wireless upgrade for its Vive headset and the debut of a virtual Alibaba store.

Through the use of what attachable wireless modules, HTC Vive partner company TPCAST, funded through its Vive X startup accelerator programme, has found a way to bypass the need to have the Vive headset tethered to a high-end PC or laptop.

While it is in its early days with only limited numbers available to pre-order through its Chinese website, it appears to be a way to free the Vive headset from its cumbersome cables.

Battery life and the potential for lag introduced by the wireless communication were not detailed but the company.

But Alvin W. Graylin, China regional president of Vive at HTC, told UploadVR that the there is “no noticeable difference” between the performance of a wired and wireless headset, and battery life is slated for around an hour and a half of use.

Virtual reality shopping

vr headsetContinuing to work with partners rather than go it alone HTC has  joined forces with Alibaba, China’s equivalent of Amazon, to release Buy+, a mobile app designed for use with VR-compatible smartphones which enables people to view and buy products in virtual stores, which HTC claims is a VR first.

“We are glad to cooperate with Alibaba to enable the first mass-demonstration of a complete VR shopping experience and are honoured that they have chosen Viveport M as the preferred download partner for the Buy+ mobile application,” said Graylin.

While VR headsets and other related hardware and software are impressive to use as a first-time experience, outside of certain areas such as gaming and viewing 3D documentaries, questions have been raised as to whether VR can be anything more than a niche technology.

By bringing in a virtual shopping app, HTC and Alibaba are going some way to bolster the scope of what VR can be used for, as a virtual shop where you can actually buy things rather than gawk at them offers something above and beyond most experiences offered by VR software.

It will have to be seen if VR can really take off, but the efforts of HTC and the likes of Google with its Daydream system indicate that big technology companies ae keen to give VR a go regardless.

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