Vive Focus

This week the interns had the challenge of using the new Vive Focus headset. This headset differs from its big brothers (The HTC Vive and Vive Pro) by going completely wireless alongside inside out tracking over external sensors. This allows the Vive Focus completely free range of movement and can be worn in nearly any space.

The interns chose to take advantage of this new feature, focusing on creating a demo that would inspire movement and creativity. As such, a ‘Seasonal’ demo was created.

We were not able at the time to film the output of the headset but we recorded it on another occasion instead.

This demo contained all 4 seasons each located around the player, with the player positioned in the middle. Using the Vive Focus controller the player could point a beam to a position in the world, and with a click of the touchpad spawn random seasonally relevant objects, such as snowy rocks, blossoming trees, weathered logs and butterflies. Using both the trigger and the touchpad simultaneously would destroy whatever object the beam was pointing towards, allowing the player to delete any object they didn’t like, butterflies included.

A small camera texture was also positioned in the top right of the player’s view, allowing them to get a glimpse of the outside world without taking the headset off. This aided significantly in players confidence when walking around with the headset on, and encouraged players to truly explore their virtual environment, tether-free.

The Vive Focus runs on an Android operating system, and as such all Unity builds must target the Android platform. This involves downloading the Android Studio application and installing the included SDK and APK. Installing the builds was a fairly tedious process, requiring the headset to be plugged in by USB-C and builds transferred via windows command line. The build must also be uninstalled each time before a new build can be deployed, this is also done via the command line. Additionally, Vive Focus applications are built using the Wave VR API over the standard SteamVR API and therefore does require some relearning of old tricks.

Overall players tended to enjoy the demo and appreciated the freedom of movement the Vive Focus provided. However, there were mentions of the ‘3 Degrees of Freedom’ limitation of the controller causing its position not to line up with its VR representation. The frame rate of the Vive Focus is also lower than its desktop counterparts, capped at 75 frames per second rather than the traditional 90. This reduction in frame rate can cause some motion sickness when using the headset, especially when freely walking around the environment.

If you have access to a HTC Vive Focus why not download the demo that was created