Vive pre-orders to start on February 29, HTC boss Cher Wang confirms

HTC will start taking pre-orders for Vive, its virtual reality headset, from February 29, its chief executive has confirmed. Cher Wang told the Telegraph the company had chosen to refocus on virtual reality (VR) and away from smartphones, saying the company was now "more realistic".
“Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables and virtual reality is more important," she said.
Vive has been developed with game maker Valve, designed to fully immerse its wearer in their virtual environment while playing games. It will go on wider commercial sale in April, and will compete with Facebook-owned Oculus Rift and Sony’s PlayStation VR as the technology finally enters the mainstream. Its price remains unknown.
“I think the problem was competition, Apple, Xiaomi, these companies spend tons of money on communications and marketing, they pump a huge amount of investment into the market. There are a lot of Chinese competitors.”
The news comes in the wake of Oculus announcing the price tag for its Rift headset (£499), and the alleged leaking of Sony’s PlayStation VR system on Canadian Amazon last week.
HTC showcased the second generation developer kit, Vive Pre, at CES in Las Vegas, a signifcant aesthetic departure from the first version which was launched with much fanfare at last year’s Mobile World Congress.
The headset has been redesigned to rest more comfortably on the wearer’s face, with a smaller cage and more stable head strap. HTC said the new design can be more easily adjusted to users’ heads, and can still be worn comfortably by those who wear glasses.
It also contains an integrated front-facing camera, enabling you to see your physical surroundings while wearing the headset. This means you could sit down, eat and continue interacting with others without needing to remove it.
HTC’s VR lead JB McRee told the Telegraph the technology has the capacity to make us kinder, more empathetic humans, "rewiring" the way our brains learn in terms of education.
"On a couple of occasions I’ve taken people who are in wheelchairs and taken them through The Blue demo [HTC’s underwater experience], in which an enormous whale swims past you]. I’ve had people get really emotional, because they would potentially never have the chance to go underwater scuba diving, or see a whale like that," he said.
"As you push them through the demo and turn them around, they feel like they’re swimming. That’s a super-powerful thing for me. I think that’s really cool."
The price of powerful computers which Rift and Vive require to run properly is a major barrier to its mainstream adoption, costing upwards of around £1,000.