HTC announced two new, enterprise-focused VR headsets at their Vivecon on Tuesday May 11th. The Vive Focus 3 is a standalone VR HMD with an impressive 2,448 x 2,448 per-eye resolution, 90Hz, 120° FoV, new controllers, swappable battery, and priced at $1,300. The New Vive Pro 2 VR HMD was also announced also with a 2,448 × 2,448 (6.0MP) per-eye resolution, but with 120 Hz, dual-element Fresnel lenses, 120° diagonal FoV, 120Hz refresh rate, $800, and June 3 release. HTC also annoucned a number of new Vive Business software offerings including Vive Business App Store, Vive Business Training, Vive Business Streaming, & Vive Business Device Management.
I had a chance to talk with Alvin Wang Graylin, the China President at HTC about HTC’s two new VR headsets, the launch of Vive Business, and more context on their Vive XR Ecosystem, new Vive Trackers, Facial tracker, and trends of virtual idols & VTubers including their new virtual spokeperson named VEE.
Here’s my Twitter thread from Vivecon and Virtual Vive Ecosystem Conference:
I'm watching #Vivecon, where @htcvive is announcing 2 new VR HMDs (embargo lifted at 9a).@RtoVR has specs on the Vive Focus 3, enterprise-oriented, $1,300 price, 120° FoV, new controllers, (2,448 x 2,448) per-eye, swappable battery.https://t.co/j2RLwdetIW https://t.co/B7cMokH27D pic.twitter.com/zPOdnmiuzO
— Kent Bye (Voices of VR) (@kentbye) May 11, 2021
LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE VOICES OF VR PODCAST
This is a listener-supported podcast through the Voices of VR Patreon.
[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to the Voices of VR podcast. So HTC announced a couple of new pieces of hardware, as well as a number of different software services at their Vivecon conference that happened on Tuesday, May 11, 2021. They also had a Vive ecosystem conference that happened later in the evening, which they're announcing a couple of more things there as well. So I had a chance to attend both the ViveCon and the Virtual Vive Ecosystem Conference, the V2EC, on Tuesday. And then on Wednesday, I had a chance to catch up with Alvin Wang Graylin. He's the president of HEC China, so kind of in charge of all the ecosystem within China. But I had a chance to talk to him about both the Vive Focus 3, which is kind of like their new standalone enterprise VR headset that, in some ways, is competing with the Oculus for Business Quest version. They also have a new Vive Pro 2, which is like one of the highest resolution headsets. Actually, both of them are 2448 by 2448. So super high resolution on each of these different devices. And I had a chance to talk to Alvin about both of these new pieces of hardware, but also all the other peripherals that they've been releasing. A lot of what's happening with VTubers and full embodiment and full body tracking. Also, they announced a V, which is a virtual avatar spokesperson that is going to be interning at HTC. And then also they announced a whole bunch of live business ecosystem applications and services that we go into and unpack each of those as well. So that's what we're coming on today's episode of the voices of ER podcast. So this interview with Alvin happened on Wednesday, May 12th, 2021. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:01:47.490] Alvin Wang Graylin: Well, you know, Ken, it's good to be back again. We talked about two, three years ago when we were at CES. So it's always nice to catch up. I am Alderwood Braylin. I run the China business for HTC. I also am the head of the VRBCA, the Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance, and vice chair of the IVRA, the Industry of VR Alliance. And I am also, I guess, co-head of the VibeX program here. for three out of the six locations of buybacks. So a lot of hats, but I guess it's a fun space. So I am very privileged to be able to get access to a lot of information about what's going on in the industry. So I'm excited to have this conversation with you. Particularly after our launch yesterday of the two new headsets and our new business offering, software offering, I think we'll have a lot to talk about.
[00:02:32.959] Kent Bye: Yeah, so I had a chance to attend the press conference that happened yesterday in the morning. And then there was the virtual Vive ecosystem conference that I also went to, which I happened to go to last year as well. So I attended that as well. It was all in Chinese. So I was trying to take what I could.
[00:02:48.643] Alvin Wang Graylin: I was actually surprised you made it all the way through because I watched your kind of blog stream or live stream and your Twitter feed. But I mean, I think you got most of the key points. So your ability to read between the lines is quite impressive.
[00:03:02.027] Kent Bye: Well, I mean, I think that most of the announcements happen in the morning and there's a lot of overlap obviously between the two, but there was also a lot of new stuff. And so maybe let's start with the big news because you had two new headsets. You have the Vive Focus 3, which is kind of a continuation of the Vive Focus, which is a self-contained headset, pretty high resolution. It's enterprise focus, but maybe we can start with the Vive Focus 3 because that seems to be kind of the new entry in terms of what I'd say is bringing into the self-contained headset market, but really aim for the enterprise use cases.
[00:03:35.420] Alvin Wang Graylin: Yeah. So, I mean, you see the Focus 3 as essentially the best in class for standalone devices. And in the West, it is going to be more targeted towards the enterprise users or the business users in general, not necessarily large enterprise. It can also be small, medium businesses and location-based entertainment and other things. But in China, we'll be actually marketing to both prosumers as well as to the business market. But as you said, it's essentially had the best specs of everything out there from 5K screens to 90 Hertz refresh rate to 120 degrees field of view, which is significantly higher than pretty much all the standalones out there. I think most of them are under a hundred degrees for standalones that are out there today. Even with ones that just got launched a couple of days ago, like the Neo, you know, I think they were also, I think sub 100 degrees. field of view. So the fact that we put it all together and then having the full front-back balance, that's actually as big an improvement to the usability and comfort of the device. Because one of the biggest requirements, requests we get from users is, how can you make these devices more comfortable? I can wear it longer. It doesn't weigh on my head. People talk about the quest space, which is after you've worn a quest for more than half an hour, you have this circle around your eyes. You won't need that anymore because you don't have to make it so tight so it doesn't fall out the front or so it doesn't move around because it's so balanced. We also added the ability to have swappable batteries. I think that's actually quite useful because now you don't have to worry, have that battery life anxiety of, what if I run out of battery in this meeting or in this workday? And if you're playing a long game and you'll be in and out and switch batteries, it's super easy to do. And then one of the things I actually like is the front and back magnetic gaskets. So if you're sharing devices with colleagues, or if you're in a, an LBE venue, you know, rather than having that little piece of paper, you put it on your face and then having that every time you essentially just wipe it down with a alcohol swipe and then just have two or three of these things that you can switch off between people. And it's just one second to put it on and off. So I think that these are the kinds of things that will make this device a lot more appealing to users of all classes. And the fact that we have this new high resolution RGB sub-pixel screen also allows it to essentially get rid of all of the complaints people have about screen door effect and allow you to almost pretty much be able to read text pretty comfortably inside VR. That doesn't sound like much, but honestly it's a huge thing because it means that now Rather than having to take this on and off every time to look at my screen, I can actually have a virtual screen in VR that I can work and do other things with. I don't know if you saw the video in V2VC that had vSpatial demo where They essentially created multiple screens and they were able to work inside VR. They were so excited about this, probably more so than we were, because they created their app. And one of the biggest complaints they get about the virtual desktop app that they've created is you still have to kind of crunch in to see what's on the text or read a website. But now with this high resolution, you can comfortably read text. And it's actually a game changer, even though it sounds so simple.
[00:06:48.042] Kent Bye: Yeah, that 2,448 by 2,448, that's a lot of pixels. Being able to read the text, I think that's a huge deal, you know, in terms of actually using this as a virtual productivity tool. Now the things I haven't had a chance to try this out. So I think the big wildcards for me would be the quality of the tracking, you know, cause the Quest 2 has like Beat Saber that they were really able to do like expert plus training. And, you know, this is kind of the first foray. Well, I guess the VIVE focus has had inside out tracking for a while, but the quality of that is something that evolves and improves over time. And I think there's at least a couple of iterations, which makes me feel a little bit more comfortable. And also the hand tracking, I think is another thing in terms of, as we move forward, there was mentioned in the V2EC conference that they do have hand tracking. I didn't hear much about that during the morning conference, but it does sound like at least has a little bit of that.
[00:07:36.772] Alvin Wang Graylin: We've been building a hand tracking solution for the last two, three years, as you probably heard. Even with the focus, we had some hand tracking. We just weren't comfortable enough with it to make it a public offer. So I know some of our developers have been using it. is part of our ViveSense SDK, but will be a improved hand tracking solution that will come out in the near future for the Focus 3. So we're quite happy about that. And in terms of just controller tracking, yes, you're right. We've been improving it over time with the Focus and Focus Plus, we use the ultrasound. I think the benefit of that was lower power consumption as well as a fairly wide field of view tracking for the controllers, but the sensitivity wasn't as good. And then with the Cosmos, we started getting into optical tracking, but we were using visible light. Whereas now with the new generation, we're actually using IR-based tracking, which is essentially the same type of technology that is being used by Oculus. So our goal is to essentially be on par in terms of the quality of controller tracking. So we, we think people will be quite happy with the performance of that. That should not be a concern.
[00:08:43.936] Kent Bye: Yeah. And the other thing that I need to listen to it or experience it to really get a sense of it is there seems to be a new audio solution for the Vive Focus 3, which I don't know how you describe it, but it sort of radiating into your ears rather than something that's over your ears. But maybe you could talk a little bit about the audio solution. Yeah.
[00:09:00.005] Alvin Wang Graylin: I mean, it's a little bit like what the index was doing where it's not right on your ear. But the thing that, that I actually am quite excited about that technology is that it has This privacy mode concept where we have a reverse signal going out versus in. Let's say you're in an office environment, you're not going to be hearing all this noise around you of people's content leaking out or less of it. It's kind of like noise cancellation, right? It's not perfect, but it's going to definitely improve your privacy of your content being heard by people around you. At the same time, into your ear, it should be quite clear.
[00:09:35.546] Kent Bye: Okay. We talked about the swavel battery. I think that's going to be also a good feature. So when does it get released? It's like $1,300 a US. And so when is the actual release date of it?
[00:09:44.435] Alvin Wang Graylin: Um, I think it's the second half of June. So, uh, you know, depending on the market and kind of how long it takes to get ships out to different places. Yeah. So our, our target is to be in the second half of June. So, you know, pretty soon within about a little over a month or so.
[00:09:57.953] Kent Bye: Okay. So let's talk a little bit about the VIVE Pro 2. And then I think there's a lot of other software stuff that I want to dig into that was also new and interesting to see all the different services that you're going to be providing. But the VIVE Pro 1 came with eye tracking and it sounded like that there was a eye module that was going to be announced as an add-on later. And that it's also the same high resolution in terms of 2448 by 2448. So six megapixels per eye, the exact same resolution as the VIVE Focus 3. and the 120 degree field of view and 120 degree hertz refresh rate.
[00:10:32.053] Alvin Wang Graylin: Actually, the difference is the refresh rate. With the Focus 3, it only goes up to 90 because we've just given the mobile chipset. We're actually already stretching the limits. of that chip because we were running it here with a 3080 and running at 420 hertz in full 5k it was already kind of stretching that as well so the visual quality will definitely be better even with the same screen on a vibe pro because you just have a lot more processing power you can even do super sampling if you want to to get it even a little bit better. But in regards to the eye tracking, the original Vive Pro actually did not have eye tracking when it first came out. We came out about a year and a half later with the Vive Pro Eye, which had the eye tracking. So it was a premium product that was kind of above the Vive Pro offering. And so this is kind of the initial Vive Pro 2, which doesn't have it because what we found was that there's a lot of people that just still didn't need it yet. And we didn't want to add that fixed cost to every single user. So the fact that we have a partner with Seven Dimension, which is one of our Bidex investing companies, created a accessory that would attach both the Vive Focus 3 as well as the Vive 2. I think that's a real clue for us because now for people who already built stuff for Vive Pro-I, that content should work because it is fully compatible with the existing Vive Sense, SRA and APAL eye tracking SDK, which they've been building for the Vive Pro-I. So we're quite happy about that.
[00:11:59.163] Kent Bye: Yeah, one of the trends that I see at least for the people who are the power users and early adopters in the VR industry is this whole concept of VTubing, where it feels like you've got a number of different features from both the facial tracker, you have the body tracker, and then you also have the eye tracking eventually. It's like all these things combined together is going to be riding this wave of VTubing, which is happening in like VRChat and Neos VR and also in Japan, there's lots of other activity that's going on there. And I'm just curious if you saw like the popularity of the Vive trackers as the leading indicator that this was where things were going, because, you know, if I were to look at what's happening in the industry, if people really want to like get into VTubing, then this Vive Pro 2 is probably a good baseline for them to not only get into something with a super high resolution, but also all these other peripherals are going to be working nicely together.
[00:12:48.053] Alvin Wang Graylin: Yeah, so I mean, I think there's kind of two aspects to that. One is people who actually perform for other people. And then there's the aspect of wanting to have a full body representation that you can then join people in a virtual space. So I think with VRChat, a lot of it is really about how can I be more social with other people in VR. And there are even some people who don't have a headset, but they just get trackers so they can see their hands and arms moving with a 2D screen in front of them. And there are people who do that. We definitely would prefer if they had a headset on. But then, of course, for the VTubers who are doing full body tracking, facial tracking, the offering that we have just makes it so much easier for them to conduct and create their content. So the facial tracker that just came out very recently, it's been quite popular. We were actually surprised and the reaction was in terms of people in that space really wanted to use them and play with this technology. So, you know, this is one of the reasons why we made the Vive Pro. The external shape didn't really change much because everything was compatible. There's all these accessories that people have made for it. And keeping the ID the same allows it to fully fit into that existing ecosystem. So you just swap it in, you plug it in and it should just work, right? I mean, you load a few drivers, but that's it, right? So the fact that it can work with all three generations of trackers, you know, I can work with the index controllers, do your finger tracking if you want to. If there are some third party trackers, it should also work with them as well. and then our face trackers. And, you know, sometimes people will put other hand tracking accessories, all of those things would existingly plug into the current ecosystem. Yeah, so I think we're actually quite optimistic about this whole VTubing virtual world concept and full body tracking that people will want to utilize more. And like you're saying, the success of the tracker has actually surprised us. When we first put it out, we thought a few people might use it and you might want to use it for some training, but the number of people who are using it in systems like VRChat just to participate and have full body belonging. I mean, there are groups of people that do wear things like they will have groups sleeping where everybody just sleeps in a horizontal position with trackers on. So they see the other person lying down because you can't really lie down with your controller in your headset. You can, but it's a little bit weird. But the fact that you can just put on a controller on your hand and then lie down and put control on your feet and it mimics that for you. And those kinds of things we would not have imagined when we first created that product.
[00:15:21.173] Kent Bye: Yeah, I remember back in CES 2017, that's actually the last time that I saw you face to face and we had a conversation, but I remember the Vive conference that had so many people innovating and playing with the different ways of tracking in that. I remember when the announcement first came out, there was like this idea that anybody could create their own tracking, but after the tracking book came out from the Vive, that pretty much solved most of the people's needs in terms of engineering and that people just Decided it's easier to put that onto a camera for virtual production or to put that onto a gun for location based entertainment. And now with the full body tracking for people to get into VR chat and to go to like nightclubbing and raving, you know, there's a whole culture that's emerging out of this. And then I ran into somebody from, you know, VR chat. I was like, Hey, you know, what's happening with these trackers. And he said, yeah, they've been selling in that sometimes they're hard to get ahold of. And so it sounds like the demand has been pretty high for this tracker and that you just came out with the new version of it here within the last couple of
[00:16:18.692] Alvin Wang Graylin: The new one lasts 70% longer, it's lighter, it's smaller. So it's just more convenient for people. And in addition to the YouTube, it's actually now being applied a lot in the B2B world. People want to be able to, let's say, bring in a fire hose or a tennis racket or put it onto a handgun. We have some police departments that we work with that they put it onto a handgun and use it for simulation. So it definitely allows for physical objects to be brought into a virtual world effortlessly. And that ecosystem I think will exist for a while, but this is why, cause I heard people say, Oh, well, why are you even making another live pro? Why do that when you're a focus three can actually do PC streaming. And I said, Hey, look, you know, there are definitely a lot of customers out there that want that lighthouse ecosystem that want both the fine grain tracking that comes with laser based tracking, as well as to be able to bring accessories and full body tracking, which you just can't do right now with optical tracking.
[00:17:15.721] Kent Bye: Yeah, and I want to ask you about this V virtual character that, because V was not making any appearance in the first Vivecon, but you had a little section there. It was all in Chinese. I didn't understand anything that was said, but it seemed like that Vive has created your own virtual character. Their name is V. Maybe you could tell us a little bit about V.
[00:17:34.498] Alvin Wang Graylin: Yeah. So in fact, what led to the V thing was if you saw the page before was I was saying, Hey, there's this huge trend of what you said is virtual characters and virtual idols are becoming a real thing, particularly, I think in Asia, more so maybe than the U S but Darren, you're like cold vehicle, which is a character that's on Twitch that have been quite popular lately. But, you know, there's been a number of virtual celebrities in Asia. And, you know, we wanted to also take advantage of that trend and help highlight VR versus just the concept of a virtual human. And the fact that we can use our tracking technology, our face tracking technology, to animate this character is something that we wanted to show. And that was what we used to produce that particular scene. And in that scene, essentially the backstory of this character is she's a girl from 40 years in the future. She's a virtual AI human. And she was watching our conference. And in the conference, I said, you know, we may think about doing a virtual character and she time traveled to our space. to apply to be our virtual idol. And she's a fan of the VIVE brand in the future because, you know, if you look at her clothes, it's actually VIVE branded. So she's been watching and following our space for a while and she wanted to come back in time to be our our spokesperson, our virtual spokesperson. So I think today we actually going to announce you will be our virtual intern spokesperson for the near term while we evaluate her appropriateness for this role. So we're going to give her a certificate, official certificate online today, and she'll post it onto her virtual account in China. So she's actually going to have her own little following. We're going to try and see how that comes out. It's kind of for fun, but I think marketing in Indonesia is a little bit different maybe than marketing in the West and And this is kind of our way to reach out to an audience that I think may or may not have as much exposure to the VR space.
[00:19:25.424] Kent Bye: Yeah. And I wanted to ask one more follow-up question about V2 being there in both in China and Japan and Asia in general. I had a chance to talk to Akihiko Shirai in France at Love All Virtual and published the interview in episode number 911. Akihiko was telling me that Something about the Asian culture, that communitarian nature is that you don't want to stand out as an individual, but there's something about the V-tubing that allows people to have that level of anonymity, but also express certain aspects of their individual personality that maybe they don't get to express in other ways. He's explaining that as one reason why for the V-tubing phenomena is maybe taking off a lot more in these Asian cultures and Japan, especially. And I wanted to see if you see that as a trend that's also happening in China, because there's a lot of these technologies that HTC is making that actually kind of really feeding into this V-tubing phenomena. And, you know, do you see that this is taking off in China in a similar way that it's been really popular in Japan?
[00:20:22.570] Alvin Wang Graylin: Yeah, so, I mean, China and Japan have a lot of similarities in culture. I mean, they kind of originated from the same culture a few hundred years ago when they moved a bunch of folks from China over to Japan. And they kind of kept that historical culture and look and feel and even a lot of the clothing style, kind of five, six hundred years ago in China. And China now kind of imports back a lot of the culture from Japan. They watch a lot of the Japanese shows and the cartoons are actually quite popular here. So the cartoon culture, what they call arts, even is actually kind of a movement within the youth, kind of the generation Z youth here. So in fact, one of the video streaming companies that are most popular called Billy Billy, they started as a Japanese cartoon streaming company. And then now is essentially kind of almost like a mini YouTube in China. So I think, I think there will be a lot of sharing of both cultural habits, as well as technology habits and content. between the two cultures. The kind of not wanting to stand out is also something that I think Asian culture in general shares. Because of the kind of Buddhist mentality of being calm, accepting things, don't rock the boat, I think that model has been what's been taught as the model for success in the more Asian culture. So I think we're definitely, you know, having the anonymity of a virtual representation will allow you to speak out without endangering that subconscious mindset to not stand out. So I very much agree with that, the perception of the guests that you have mentioned.
[00:21:55.685] Kent Bye: And so I wanted to move on to some of the software announcements that you made, because there's a lot of different stuff that you have, like the VIVE Business, the VIVE Business Device Management System, the VIVE Business App Store, the VIVE Business Training, you know, there's a lot of different stuff that was announced here, both- And the VIVE Business Streaming, which I think is actually a really important feature, so. Yeah, the Vive Business Streaming, I don't know if that was announced in the morning or if that was just the V2 EC, but yeah, maybe we could start with what the streaming is. Cause it sounds like there's a little bit of like pixel streaming or at least being able to do the similar rendering stuff either on the cloud or on your computer. What is the Vive Business Streaming? Maybe we could start there and then we'll get into all these other ones.
[00:22:33.432] Alvin Wang Graylin: I think the Vive Business Streaming, it'll be, it's very similar to what essentially Oculus Link is doing. And when we launch, we're going to have the wired version available right away at launch. and we'll have a high quality cable that we will sell, which we've validated and tested, but we're going to make the feature available for free to our users. If they want to buy their own cable, they can also try it. We just don't guarantee it with their own cable because you just don't know the quality of cables. It's hard to get consistent quality with third-party cables. But over time, we're also going to be launching a wireless version to allow you to do streaming on both the Wi-Fi AC as well as Wi-Fi 6. allowing you to have larger area streaming to your PC. And I'm getting a lot of inquiries these days from location-based entertainment companies who are saying, Hey, I don't want to have to use a backtalk anymore. Can this thing work? And I think that is actually a very viable potential solution. So we were still in the midst of validating, testing the wireless solution for that. But once that's out, I think it will definitely make the user experience for current backpack solutions a lot cheaper and easier to maintain.
[00:23:40.038] Kent Bye: Okay. So let's dive into some of these other announcements that you made. Like what is the Vive business? What does that all encompass?
[00:23:46.040] Alvin Wang Graylin: So I mean, essentially by business is kind of the umbrella brand for, Hey, you know, we know that having just hardware itself is not enough. You know, we need to offer a integrated solution that allows businesses of all sizes to be able to manage the content, to be able to manage the devices, to be able to keep things updated, to be able to do reporting on it, to be able to have also a level of support and warranty that's related to business needs. So that's kind of the whole umbrella by business brand. But within that, we have the device management that essentially does a lot of the MDM functionality that people are getting from people like VMware. Now, if you have VMware or any of the other existing ones, it will be compatible with them. We've been working with a lot of the current MDM vendors to integrate with their solutions. But if you don't have an existing solution or you don't want to spend the money, to buy a third party solution, this will meet your needs as well. So I think that's the thing for the bike training is essentially more for, if you have a classroom of 30 people, or you have a sales for 20 or 30 people, can somebody with a iPad, you want to manage these 30 people and have an interactive session with them and be able to see the status of all of these people in their headsets and communicate with them with just one trainer or one host. I think those kinds of experiences. I think will make our product be accessible to a new use case that is very common that we see today that doesn't have a very standardized solution.
[00:25:12.065] Kent Bye: Yeah, part of my observation of the VR industry, just comparing what's been happening with both HTC Vive and Oculus is that Vive was a very early mover in terms of the enterprise market. And it took a long time for Oculus to really even enter in the market. And when they did, they've since made a strategic decision to basically kill off their PC VR native line of headsets. So now it's going to be all quest-based. which, you know, they're going down the Oculus link and the streaming, but in terms of like outside in tracking, there's a lot of the applications that I would imagine we need to have a certain level of precision, architectural visualization design, you know, just like it probably make a lot more sense for a whole class of different experiences just to be either PC based or to be based with the lighthouse tracking with the level of precision that you need, virtual production, all these different applications. And so what's interesting also is that you've got this Vive business app store, which I think. For people who are doing enterprise development, that this is a potential way to maybe sell a handful of different licenses or apps, but that can make a whole viable business. It doesn't have to be at the whole scale of the consumer market. So it seems like it's maybe opening up some doors for you.
[00:26:21.570] Alvin Wang Graylin: I think the app store side, I actually forgot to mention that earlier. We discussed it, but I think that's actually one of our key announcements that probably isn't getting a lot of pickup, which is shit because what we're also finding is that. more and more businesses and enterprises want to use VR, but they also don't want to have their employees be playing games all the time. So they don't want to have just put on a ViPort or Steam store onto their platform and let people go at it. So having a more controlled environment for your employees to say, hey, here's 50 apps or 20 apps or 10 apps that are the authorized apps for our employees and allow the administrator to be able to manage them. I think that's actually really important. The other thing is also deployment. If you think about, if you have a thousand people, and yesterday we announced we're partnering with Accenture, they have 500,000 employees. If they had to give and manage 5,000, 500,000 employees and give each of them a headset to work from home or whatever, having them say, okay, well, go to the app store and you'll find the app you want, download it, you do it yourself. Whereas now they can manage all of that and do it centrally and update operating systems, update apps, update content. and be able to track and manage all of these users. I think that's super important. As well as if you look at the app stores now, it's mostly targeted towards consumers and gaming. And so you're looking at apps that are like $5, $10, $20. But some of these apps that we have for business app could be $1,000, right? So you have a store where you're going to be ranked and you're finding somebody, finding something in the store that says, Oh, you know, give me them top sales. You're not going to get any of the business vendors, right? So we've essentially categorized them into different categories of use cases. So people can go into design or going to training or going to healthcare or whatever. And so immediately find what they need and not be confusing people with a $5 game and a $500 training. No. So I think that's something that our customers have been telling us they want. And we've actually had to make quite a bit of effort actually to recreate a more business oriented app distribution system for them.
[00:28:23.633] Kent Bye: Yeah. And one of the points that Dan O'Brien had made during the announcement was that you can pay once and there's not as many sort of recurring subscription fees. However, it does seem like that if you want to have parity when it comes to say the Vibe business device management system, that there is like a subscription service there as well. So even though it is a little bit more of a flat fee and you're not required to have like For Oculus for business, you have to have like a workplace for Facebook. So you have to buy into having like a workplace Facebook account to use, but you don't have that. But that does seem like that in order to get some of the same device management stuff, there's subscription services for that.
[00:28:59.003] Alvin Wang Graylin: Well, yes and no. Actually, if you look at the Oculus offering, they don't have multi-device management. They don't have that. Essentially, if they're saying, Hey, look, we're going to allow you not to use our consumer social accounts. That's their main benefit, right? If you want to get MBM, if you go to get a VMware, it's not cheap. I mean, we're talking a hundred dollars a year per user, and that's just for one function. We're including that with a whole suite of things. So the things that we would charge for are things that businesses would actually pay extra for anyways. Just having the store itself, we don't charge anybody for that store. So I think on an apples to apples basis, over time for sure, we are actually a much better total lifetime value for the customers. I mean, every year you have to pay about $200 to get the business license from Oculus. Whereas we essentially, you buy it one time, you're done, right? and the fact that the devices are just significantly better. In every single spec, we are better. So I think as a business, it's a no-brainer for them. And just over the last 24 hours after launch, there's so many companies that come and say, oh, wow, what you guys have created is exactly what we've been wanting. And I can't believe how well you've met the specs of what we're needing as a business. And so, you know, I know there's going to be a few people who complain and say, oh, you know, over $1,000 for a device. But if you look at the Quest business, plus their yearly license, it's $1,000 for something that is a significantly less performing product, right? When you're doing a side-by-side. And it's something that you put that on and after half an hour, you have the ring around your head. You're not going to use that for business for a significant long duration use. So, I'm actually more and more confident, especially after launch, that this product is at the right type of offering and the right place for the audience that needs it. It's not for everybody. It's definitely not for the casual gamer that want to play Beat Saber 20 minutes a day. But it is definitely a very capable product for people that want to use it in a professional setting, that want to use it for an extended use, even if they're not bought by the enterprise.
[00:31:06.315] Kent Bye: And one of the things that I think was announced last year, the Vive XR suite, which has a number of different features, everything from virtual gatherings, you know, it's sort of a, I guess, white labeling of a number of existing applications from Engage VR to Museum of Other Realities. And maybe you could describe the Vive XR suite and what you've seen in terms of how that's being used either in clients here in the United States, or if a lot of these different products that are mainly here in the United States are also having a market that's opened up there in China as well.
[00:31:37.164] Alvin Wang Graylin: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, the XR Suite came out of the China team, so we helped to originate the idea and then also do the first events in it. In fact, the two launch events we did yesterday was in live sessions or in Engage. So depending on kind of where your market is, we use different versions that allow people to use both. But that product is really starting to mature, right? The first time we did it, it only supports using PCs and VR devices. And now we added mobile devices, both Android mobile devices, as well as iOS mobile devices. And yesterday I found that probably about a third to 40% of the participants joined in mobile devices. In fact, I was doing a press conference in live sessions after our event. And about half of the reporters were using the mobile devices. They said, Oh, you know, it's so much easier this year because I didn't have to go set up all of the VR stuff. And because I already had my account, it was just like a one button on the deep link. And I was in, it was as easy as using zoom. But the fact that I can be in here and move around the room and talk to the other reporters before and after the event, they were actually quite excited. Like, wow, this is really coming together. It's so much easier now and joining your event. is so much better. Joining your event as a spatial experience versus joining it as watching a video is so much better because now I can explore and play around and do these little games and find the other people I want to talk to. The fact that yesterday we had to go from a whole journey of an entire trip of landing at the entry of an airport, walking through the gate, going through immigration, listening to the announcements, boarding the plane, watching the opening message of the plane, and then teleporting you to the conference. And of course, having a lot of different 3D animation interactions during the conference, and then ending with the plane taking off again. That full journey, if you would just watch it on the video, you'd be like, it's kind of gimmicky. But by having it in a spatial environment, even if you're in a 2D environment, because you could actually move around, you felt like you were interacting. You felt like you were in that world, at least for that period of time. And I think that's what the magic of VR does for you, right? And so the fact that we put together multiple apps, that's when you mentioned everything from, you know, essentially VRChat becoming our VIVE Social, to VIVE Museum, which is Museum of Other Realities, to Rebella, which is our VIVE Campus product. to LiveSync, which is our kind of casual meeting product, as well as Engage slash live session product, which is for the kind of larger events and also for education. So we put together a suite of products that are things that we would expect people to be using on a regular basis. You know, one of the things that's been missing, I think in VR industry in general, is applications that people would use on a daily basis versus, you know, a game that I would play and then be done with it and I'm waiting for my next game. That's why if you look at the consumer space, when there's new games, there's a quick increase in terms of usage, and then it dies down for a while, and then another app comes out. But what we want to see is that sustained growth. And VRChat has been able to grow their user base over time the last few years, and we see that consistent need for people, the consistent desire for people to virtualize their world. So this is one of the reasons why we put something like VRChat into a suite, because the need for people to socialize is a base need of humans. And the fact that over the last year, everybody's been put into this social distancing environment where they cannot meet other people, so they can use a virtual meeting, a virtual space to supplement some of that missing closeness and the social interactions they have, I think is actually quite useful. And particularly, we found that some of our customers are using it to allow their employees to have off-hour social times. so that they can do the cooler conversations of the Friday night happy hours that they used to do, which they haven't done for a year. And for new employees who have never had interaction with other employees outside of a Zoom meeting, they lose the social context of that community. And so these are the little things that are important when you have a sustained separation, whereas maybe for the first month or two when you already have spent a year in the office with somebody, if you've not seen them for a month, you're still friends and you're still going to keep that closeness. But if you've never met this person and you've never had any interactions outside of a video meeting, it's hard to build that closeness when every time you've met, it's been in a group environment. So I think, you know, those are the kind of little types of learnings that we're seeing. And this is why, you know, yesterday we announced our cooperation with Accenture because Accenture have so many people and they're serving so many clients and they're saying, we have this desire, this need across the board for our clients for a, better all-in-one VR device that is easy to manage, that is high resolution, that can be used to replace a monitor. All the things that we've delivered, they're like, wow, this is perfect. This is exactly what we need. We need to work together. And so over the last six months, we've crafted this cooperation with them. And we feel like this type of partnership is going to really give long-term dividends to both the two companies as well as to the industry, because they're serving essentially almost all of the Fortune 500 companies in the world. Hmm.
[00:36:39.857] Kent Bye: Well, as we start to wrap up, I wanted to list a number of different things in the Vive XR ecosystem and let you kind of riff on some of these, because I think that was one of the slides that I was really impressed with in terms of the Vive XR ecosystem. There was a lot of things that I hadn't heard of and other stuff that I wasn't as aware of, but just to see all the different stuff, everything from, you know, Viveport, which is continuing to go on and have like the ability to subscribe and get access to all these, you know, with Vive Infinity, all these different experiences. You have Vive Arts, which, you know, I was surprised to see in this presentation of the Virtual Vive Ecosystem Conference. There's a whole retrospective of a lot of the art pieces that have been done over there.
[00:37:17.553] Alvin Wang Graylin: They've been working with dozens and dozens of artists and museums and galleries over the last three years. We've been funding a lot of unique content, original content to be created and allowing us to share culture and arts to a broader audience. So, I mean, just like you look at what we did with the Mona Lisa with the Louvre, they spent six months having our team and the Emissive team inside the Louvre location with the director of the Louvre and the expert who's been working with the Mona Lisa over the last decade. to have that resource together to discuss how to make that content. We funded the entire thing. And then they created an offline exhibition. And people were lining up. More people went to watch that. The reason they went to watch that than to see the original movies, because I've seen the movies. Honestly, it was a disappointment, because you're like 10 meters away with these velvet ropes around. And you just see this picture. And you can't even get close to it. Whereas you put on a headset. They had a room at the Louvre to allow people to put on a headset and have that full experience. Now, we then took that experience and put it onto BIPORT, and you don't have to now get on the plane and go to France and be able to have that same experience. We've done that with the Tate Museum, with the Smithsonian, with the Natural History and Life Museum. All of these different museums, as well as a lot of the modern artists, we've done experiences with them as well. It's something that is a special passion for sure. This particular piece of business, actually, they're thinking about spinning off and being their own little independent business because They've created so much content over the last year. So I probably went a little too much.
[00:38:56.525] Kent Bye: I think that was one of my favorite parts of just kind of getting a retrospective there. Cause I, I hadn't seen a recap of that. So, I mean, it was all in Chinese. So I was only able to pick up the, like what was in English from that, but I wanted to list those five other things sticking out from the vibe XR ecosystem and that you can make some comments and then we'll wrap up. You have the vibe events. So virtual events, you have Vive land. So doing location-based entertainment type of stuff.
[00:39:20.311] Alvin Wang Graylin: And we have our own location as Entertainment. We have about, I think, three or four locations of ourselves, but we're not doing it to compete with other LBE. We're actually doing it to learn how to run an LBE, what are the needs of the LBE. And we've gathered, I think, about 400 or 500 pieces of content and also the accessories that go with the content and the management system that go with that content. And we made that available to a lot of our clients, right? Not everybody is a holidate or a void or whatever that has huge budget to gather it all and create original content. So they want stuff that they can turn key solution. And that's what Vivaland does for you. You, you were mentioning, uh, what was the other one? Yeah, we've, uh, essentially created last year because of the pandemic and the need for virtual events and helping over the last year, we've done probably a couple of dozen events for clients and doing the full production and planning execution. events, both for brands as well as for businesses to do their own custom events. You know, like just a couple of months ago, we worked with Balenciaga on their fall autumn fashion show, where they used our Bifocus Plus device, loaded their entire fashion show, both entire interactive game of it, and then sent it to all of the people that they would have invited to the actual physical fashion show. And then they had them all put on at the same time. It was all preloaded in kiosk mode and they would run the event as if it was a live event. So things like that where they allow people to feel like they were together. And they also made full scans of all the clothing so that the buyers and the KOL can actually feel what it's like to see the textures. So a lot of things that you would not be able to do without a physical event. And we've had people do their year-end conferences. We've had people do social events. I think National Geographic or something did their team building event inside our apps because they couldn't get people together physically. So they still wanted people to have that team feel. So just a lot of things that are being done to overcome the distances that we've created because of the pandemic. And I think, you know, once this happens, we will find that even when the pandemic's over, a lot of people will choose to do virtual events instead of physical or to do hybrid events, both in terms of saving costs so that they don't have everybody has to travel, as well as maybe even the value and consistency. You know, one of our The events we had last year was with YPO. I don't know if you know that. They're a young presence organization. They had members in each of the four cities come together. In the cities, they had mini events where maybe 10 or 20 people of that city, the members were together. And then they had a virtual event that everybody then logged in to a virtual event where the four cities could then join in a virtual space together. And so you kind of had the closeness of the local city chapters together with the community of the larger environment. And so that kind of a hybrid event, I think will become more and more the norm.
[00:42:16.686] Kent Bye: Right. And just popcorn style. I'm going to list the last three hours, which is the vibe, business training, Vivex and Vivewave. If you have some quick comments on those and then we'll wrap up.
[00:42:25.528] Alvin Wang Graylin: Yeah. So, uh, my business training, I think what that is, is a ability to do group management. with the Focus 3. The Vive Wave is our ecosystem program to help the startups and smaller all-in-one device companies to be able to reach bigger audiences with less cost and faster time to market. So we took all of our learnings, all of our content, all of our SDKs, and we gave it to the smaller companies like Pico, or IT, or Shadow Creator, or Unreal, and, you know, Three Glasses. They're all our partners, and they can use our BytePort store, they can use our hand tracking, our controllers, you know, all these things that would have cost a lot more for them to do. And now they're able to create lower cost offerings that can serve that segment that we aren't able to serve. You know, so rather than saying, Hey, you know, we're going to make the buy focus three at $300 device. We can't do it, but we know some of these other companies can, and we help them do it and they can help these cost conscious markets be able to have a quality product. And I think at one point about 70 to 80% of total volume in China, uh, standalones were vive or vive wave partners. What was the last item?
[00:43:35.143] Kent Bye: Oh, there was 5X.
[00:43:36.523] Alvin Wang Graylin: Oh, yes, of course. 5X is one of the things that we started from day one, which is really about helping startups when they most need it, right? And particularly as this industry is growing, you know, there's no way for a large company like HTC to answer everybody's question and do all the research. So we created this community of startups that we've invested over 110 companies over the last four years. And they become a community that helps each other. And we continue to help them not just with financial funding, but really to help them get to market, to give them access, to put their technology into our ecosystem, into our products, to bundle them, to give them a platform to market them. So all of these things are what we've been doing to help our startup community. And I'm really excited. We're actually going to be doing another roadshow with our DiveX and VRBCA community. in July. So if anybody's interested, please go to the VRVCA website and submit your application.
[00:44:32.594] Kent Bye: Great. And final question is, what do you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality might be and what it might be able to enable?
[00:44:41.899] Alvin Wang Graylin: So I know you asked this to all your guests, and I don't think I've actually changed my perception of what the ultimate potential is. And the ultimate potential is really to create a parallel virtual world. that any human can go into to satisfy and realize whatever's in their desire, right? Whether to learn, whether to play, whether to work, to be able to have this parallel world that is as real, as productive, as engaging as the real world, but not to replace it, right? I feel like VR is really about all the senses that you have physically right now in base reality, and then using a digital way to display that, to realize it and display it to your brain, or input it into your brain. But our base reality is limited by the physics of the world that we live in. Whereas the virtual world, there are no limits. And so giving that opportunity for anybody in the world to have a device or a technology or a system to let them experience something that is not possible in the real world, I think that is the ultimate potential. And it's up to them to decide what their goal is in terms of using that technology.
[00:45:57.825] Kent Bye: Great. Is there anything else that's left unsaid that you'd like to say to the broader immersive community?
[00:46:02.374] Alvin Wang Graylin: The thing that I want to leave with is I really, you know, first of all, thank the entire community over the last five, six years of us together trying to grow and and stay with it during a lot of ups and downs. But I feel like we're reaching a really new inflection point for the industry as a whole. And I think the people that are going to be here and really focus on it for the next few years are the companies and the people that are going to create this new industry together. And this is going to be an industry that will be as big if not bigger than the mobile or the PC or internet industry today. And it will be the primary way people interact with computing and with each other in the next 10, 20, 30 years. So if you want to be part of the movement that is going to create this new industry, join now. If you've been doing it, thank you for your dedication. HTC is here to support that to happen. We welcome and support an open ecosystem where people are working together, we're sharing, and we're celebrating each other's success. I think having a successful industry will allow companies to be successful and be profitable. We don't need to take every chip off the table. So, you know, we want the entire industry to float and to rise. And, you know, we're making the investments to to help make that happen. And we hope you do come along with us on that journey.
[00:47:31.167] Kent Bye: Well, Alvin, thanks for coming on and not only explaining some of the new hardware, but all the software stuff that you have going on. I think there's a lot of exciting stuff that is happening there in the Vive XR ecosystem. So thanks for coming on and helping to unpack a little bit more on the podcast here. So thank you.
[00:47:45.394] Alvin Wang Graylin: Thanks, Ken. It's always fun to chat with you and to listen to your podcast. So I'm a big fan. I will continue to subscribe and then listen to all the good stuff that you do.
[00:47:56.580] Kent Bye: So that was Alvin Wang Graylin. He's the Chinese president at HTC, the vice chair of the IVRA and the president of VRVCA. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, Well, it was good just to get a bit of an overview of some of the different new hardware. I mean, with any of these things, you really have to kind of try it out to see what are the things that are hard to describe that go beyond the specifications. You know, for me, as I look at the headsets that are out there, the Vive Index is probably the most comfortable headset that I've seen. And the Vive and the Vive Pro One, the comfort is not as comfortable as the Index. And so in terms of comfort, I'd say, you know, there's a pretty high bar when it comes to what the Index is able to achieve. In terms of audio, I think also the Index has got some of the best audio that's out there. But the resolution for both the Vive Pro 2 as well as the Vive Focus 3 is some of the highest that we've seen anywhere. And I think if there's anything, they have to kind of like struggle with having a headset that is able to both push that resolution, but also the different compression technologies that they said that they had worked with both NVIDIA and AMD to do special compression to be able to actually push that degree of the resolution. Yeah. And also just the software ecosystem in terms of all of how everything fits together until we see more reviewers get a chance to try it out. I think it's, that's probably the, one of the bigger wild cards, the specifications, uh, just looking at the specs, it's definitely some of the best that's out there as of right now, which is if you're really interested in doing like, you know, facial tracking and tracking your body and you can go with the index, but if you're buying a new headset, then the resolution increase is going to be significant to all the other headsets that are out there. So. If you're a high-end user from consumer, then definitely consider the Viya Pro 2. And then if you're enterprise, then I think actually comparing it to Oculus for Business, there's an $800 for just the Quest 2, and then there's an additional, Alvin is saying it's like $200. Again, this is all pricing that is, as of right now, that could change in the future. So whenever you're actually making these purchase decisions, go check with the source and see what the deal is in terms of the subscription fees. how much it costs. But I think generally, HTC is trying to take a pay upfront and then not have as many recurring subscriptions, although there are other services that they're going to be offering that if you want to have like multi-device management, MDM, then you're going to have to either do that through VMware or use some of their services that they have. So, the Vive business, I think there was a lot of new announcements that were coming here. Having an app store for developers, I think, is going to be pretty huge because, like Alvin was saying, when you go into Steam or you go into like an Oculus store, you know, in the absence of having a high-end premium app store, then if you're just like sorting by the most popular or, you know, things that's been downloaded the most or the cheapest and most expensive, then having some store that's dedicated to the enterprise market I think will help the people sell apps for a lot more money and just be able to have new markets that may have not really been fully cultivated up to this point. The eye tracking is not going to be coming with the VIVE Pro 2. Apparently it didn't come up with the VIVE Pro 1, but then there was a VIVE Pro Eye, which was adding it as an addition. And so they're going to be selling a $299 edition that is supposed to come out sometime in quarter three. That was announced at the Virtual VIVE Ecosystem Conference. And the whole virtual being, I think, is just interesting to see how, you know, the differences in Asian culture where a lot of the virtual beings are really taking off there. And I think just seeing how the full body tracking within VRChat, but also this larger movement of virtual beings, the VTubers and having the virtual idols is taking off to the point where, you know, they're really in a good spot to having a lot of these, you know, the facial tracker, a module that fits onto the Vive Pro 1 and the Vive Pro 2, and all their other trackers that have been selling consistently, just filling a real market need, and the whole cultures that have been emerging within VRChat, and also just the different business applications as well, and virtual production. I end up seeing them a lot whenever I travel amongst the VR industry, especially with the film festival circuit and everything else. There's so many different uses for those Vive trackers. So that's all I have for today, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. And if you enjoy the podcast, then please do spread the word, tell your friends, and consider becoming a member of the Patreon. This is a listener-supported podcast, and I do rely upon donations from people like yourself in order to continue bringing this coverage. So you can become a member and donate today at patreon.com slash Voices of VR. Thanks for listening.