Virtual reality takes centre stage at MWC

BARCELONA (REUTERS) - The comparatively fledgling tech dominated this week's Mobile World Congress, with HTC Vive's new headset among those on display.

The Vive includes a front-facing camera and two hand-tracking controllers. Two laser tracking boxes help measure the headset's position as users move.

Antonio Munoz, global account director at HTC, said: "Our HMD, our headset, is connected to the PC and we run the games through the PC platforms. We, of course, are partnering with Steam who provide a huge customer base for gaming. They are the leaders in that space."

As well as gaming and video, the Vive allows users to answer phone calls and read texts. It costs US$799 (S$1,120), but the firm says it is value for money.

Munoz said: "There's a lot of technology going on in that kit. As part of the default sales kit we provide two base stations that will fully track the user within the room. We provide two fully tracked controllers and then also the HMD that includes a camera, a microphone, super high quality lenses, and also a very high resolution display, and we feel actually what we are providing the user is definitely worth every dollar."

When launched in April HTC Vive will go head-to-head - or headset-to-headset - with Oculus Rift, Samsung, and Sony, in a bid to become market leader.

Rob Kerr, technology and mobiles expert, Uswitch, said: "VR could be seen by some as gimmicky unless you try it and when you try it you know that there's something there. You know that it's bringing something special into people's lives, travelling distances you would never do yourself."

Market analysts say 13 million VR headsets will have been sold by the end of this year, giving the industry plenty to cheer about.