HTC is heading towards the VR future with its two Vive and Vive Cosmos VR headset series and has already established its name in the industry of PC-tethered virtual reality devices. Now, the company has also started working on the next generation of VR devices which might use 5G technology for connectivity and processing to make the headsets considerably less bulky and lightweight.
The next-gen headsets by HTC are the title “Project Proton” which was unexpectedly disclosed at the event thanks to the cancellation of next week’s scheduled Mobile World Congress, where it was originally supposed to be unveiled.
HTC showcased two concepts which are a prototype of a future XR glasses-style headset. No details about the specs or pricing have been given as it is still in development. The first concept was an “all-in-one” headset known as the “Proton AIO“, similar to Microsoft’s HoloLens. The second was “all-in-two” mixed reality headset which they are calling “Proton Glass“, it is similar to Magic Leap One and Nreal’s Light where separate processing units are used.
HTC has not yet decided about which concept it continues to develop, the company is waiting for the solicit community feedback. Either way, the Proton headsets are on a similar pathway to Qualcomm’s lightweight XR Viewer designs, placing displays, speakers, and cameras inside a glasses-like frame.
The headsets look like very large sunglasses or ski goggles from the front. The cameras are hidden behind the reflective lenses with over-sized pads inside to avoid the ambient light. The stand-alone Proton AIO features a battery pack and a processor at the back, while the Proton Glass variant has a cable dangling down which attaches to a processing device at the end.
The functionality seems to be similar to the upcoming Cosmos XR which uses pass through video instead of transparent wave guide lenses. Of course, moving the processor and battery pack will lighten the headset for greater comfort and that’s where the cable prototype comes in.
Although, HTC CEO Yves Maitre offered to introduce high speed 5G wireless connection between processor and displays, but the test users explicitly cleared that they are cautious of a headset with a 5G antenna. “We do believe that it’s not reasonable to have a 5G antenna near the brain of customers, so obviously this is something that we don’t want to do,” says Maitre.
It remains unclear whether HTC will manufacture its own processing device or will rely on high-end smartphones as Nreal Light does. Currently, the prototype uses a point style controller but it internally supports 6DoF tracking plus an external 3DoF controller, with plans to support 6DoF controllers in the future.
This all shows that we are getting closer to the VR future and things seem to be heading in the right direction. The Vive Proton will be really exciting to experience once it gets released, we will keep updating once more details are available. Tell us what you think about it in the comments section below.