We got up close with some of the latest demos and experiences for HTC's latest Vive Focus Plus and Pro Eye headsets – the latter of which we first saw at CES 2019 back in January. Check out our hands-on of the HTC Pro Eye.
But the Vive Focus Plus is new and is designed as a portable all-in-one solution for the relatively low cost of £640. Both are primarily meant for commercial use and so we won’t be getting them in for review. However, we did get to check out some real-world applications that you or I could be using in the future.
Among the demos which we’ll show you is a driving test used to predict dangers, a BMW showroom app so you can check out what your car looks like before it’s built and training apps for mechanics and engineers so they can learn the basics in a safe environment.
Using the Vive Pro Eye, Kainos uses AI to analyse driver behaviour through the way you look at hazards as your car moves round a virtual city. Each time you see a hazard, you need to click the controller.
It could be a future replacement for the Driver Theory Test as it’s been developed in coordination with the DVSA, the UK agency responsible for driving tests. Of course, there’s no there’s danger involved either, which always helps – ultimately, the goal is improving road safety.
It was interesting to try out. We did OK, but we found we were often pre-empting dangers too early – we were too cautious (something we tend to do in the real world) – and we were penalised for this in the same way that we would be if we were too late to see the danger.
Kainos also told us that it was keen to combine AI with the Vive Pro eye-tracking tech to help research into driver behaviour alongside academic research.
Vobling is the company behind the aforementioned on-board train engineer demo, again using the Vive Pro Eye’s eye-tracking tech to check you’re looking in the right places. It took us through the scenario step-by-step, accompanied by instruction. This was actually pretty simple to achieve once you’d got the feeling of depth right and were able to grab tools and handles on the display. It’s intended for learning tasks through repetition.
The company’s Alex Ennerfelt told us: “The daily work of train on-board personnel is governed by routine. They have to practice and memorise a handful of complicated procedures with very specific steps for each specific scenario.
“With the Vive Pro Eye, the [student] can practice these scenarios on a virtual train, interacting with objects using the tracked controllers and visually inspecting elements with the integrated eye-tracking. All while the actual trains are free to run on the tracks.”
Very similar was the Immersive Factory demo using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835-powred Vive Focus Plus. This headset doesn’t have the eye-tracking and has a 3K resolution and built-in rechargeable battery. It’s designed for situations like showrooms or training rooms where you might not always have the technical expertise on hand that a full VR setup requires.
The demo itself was designed for engineers in an industrial situation and involved us fixing a light by going up in a lift, something that could be tough to train for because you’d need health and safety training to do it first.
ZeroLight is the company behind the BMW M Virtual Experience demo. We did use the demo briefly during our CES 2019 hands on, but we got a more detailed demo here. It’s designed for those who have already bought a M Sport BMW to give them the sense of having the car already even though it hasn’t yet been delivered.
It makes use of foveated rendering – essentially meaning that the hardware only has to render the image in detail where you are currently looking; it’ll only prepare a low-resolution image where you only have peripheral vision.
While this is a concept currently, apps like it can be used to show where customers had looked (and so interacted) with what was on offer.