HTC's Vive Cosmos VR headset is awesome - and frustrating - in equal measure

HTC reveals Vive Cosmos a new VR headset with inside-out tracking

There's no pricing yet, but it's supposed to launch in the second quarter of 2019. Other than that, the Vive Pro Eye has all the same specs that the Vive Pro does. Unlike the Vive and Vive Pro, the Cosmos won't require external trackers, and is optimized for comfort and ease of use.

With eye-tracking, users will not need a controller for specific tasks, using eye movements instead to navigate the VR world.

In addition to enabling eye control, eye tracking technology opens the door for foveated rendering, which involves only rendering the part of the experience where the user is looking.

The back of the HTC Vive Pro Eye headset.

Even the flip up cover of the HTC Vive Cosmos feels like a nod to the movie Ready Player One, similar to the movie poster that shows the protagonist flipping in and out of the virtual worlds. This renders sharp images for wherever the human eye is looking in a virtual scene and reduces the image in the periphery. Lockheed Martin is using the Vive Pro Eye to help train student pilots, for example.

Eye tracking can also be used in place of handheld controllers. Why not explain why, when the brand has just told us that it's added 1,000 new games this year, we're only able to access 500 of them?

The HTC Vive press conference at CES 2019 has certainly been memorable thanks to the unveiling of the Vive Pro Eye and the Vive Cosmos headsets. The accompanying bumpf doesn't really make things any clearer, but it sounds like a new interface and tutorial system that will presumably do a better job of easing people into VR than the Vive does now. Some key benefits mentioned potential using the Eye include better product design and user research, better accessibility, increased speed of VR interactions and more efficient CPU and GPU usage.

This is where the Vive Cosmo comes in. Dan O'Brien, HTC Vive's GM of Americas, says the Vive Pro Eye came about because developers were asking to do more. In a press release, HTC said Cosmos will have "the capability to be powered by more than a traditional gaming PC". On top of that, HTC has outlined software updates to its content subscription service and something called the "Vive Reality System".

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