HTC released the original Cosmos headset, a PC-tethered VR system that used head-mounted cameras instead of external trackers, in October of last year. Today, the company is announcing no fewer than three new products in the Cosmos line, with options above and below the current headset and an augmented reality tool for developers. They’ll be released throughout 2020.
At the bottom of the pack is the Cosmos Play, an “entry-level” headset that HTC is recommending for more basic games and tech demos, as well as business applications. Like the original Cosmos, it ditches external trackers for inside-out positional tracking cameras on the headset itself. While it lacks the top and bottom cameras, it uses the same 2880 x 1700 combined screen resolution, modular faceplates, and flip-up display as the first Cosmos, but at an affordable price point. Exactly what that price point is wasn’t specified, but presumably, it’ll be well below the $700 price of the standard VIVE Cosmos. HTC says information on this model will be available “in the coming months,” and will be compatible with other Cosmos accessories.
The Cosmos Elite is an option for those who want high-precision external tracking for more intense games with an option to go inside-out for more convenience. This $900 bundle uses an External Tracking Faceplate for compatibility with external sensors via SteamVR base stations (two are in the package), but users can swap out the faceplate from the original VIVE Cosmos if they want to go inside-out.
It also includes two VIVE controllers. It’ll be available “later in Q1,” which would put the release before the end of March. Current VIVE Cosmos owners, or those who opt for the cheaper Cosmos Play, can get the external tracking functionality of the Elite with a $200 faceplate released in the summer.
HTC is also announcing the Cosmos XR, a faceplate upgrade to the Cosmos platform that adds augmented reality capabilities via extra front-facing cameras. It uses an impressive 100-degree field of view—a big deal for AR applications—and should be compatible with all the Cosmos headsets announced thus far. Unfortunately, this one’s going out to developers first, with a kit being available in the second quarter. It’ll probably take at least another six months (probably closer to a year) before any consumer-level hardware makes use of this AR tech. HTC will be showing it off at the Game Developers Conference in March.