HTC’s Vive Focus 3 update could free arcades from VR backpacks

HTC has made some major updates to the Vive Focus 3 virtual-reality headset. These improvements are intended to improve its ability to play large, free-roaming multiplayer VR titles.
The Vive Focus 3, a non-consumer-focused wireless headset that costs $1,300, now has a new feature called Location Based Entertainment (or LBE Mode). LBE Mode significantly increases the headset's tracking range to 33 by 30 metres. Map Sharing allows multiple headsets to share the same virtual world at the same time.

These features together make the Focus 3 more suited to support group VR sessions at immersive arcade spaces like Zero Latency and The Void. HTC also offers a number of other options. The mode calibrates the headset immediately upon insertion, rather than requiring a quick setup. This is designed to make it easier for arcades to quickly put users into experience. A calibration mode that allows headsets to track objects other than the Focus 3 controller will be available, which includes the Vive Tracker puck. The headset will soon be able to support the WiFi 6E standard.

The Focus 3 was launched earlier in the year.

VR entertainment that is location-based -- where people move about a physical space with others rather than sitting still -- relies heavily on the use of headsets such as the HTC Vive to plug into backpack computers. This has several drawbacks. It takes time to place people in backpacks. Some backpack straps may not fit well and make it less comfortable for all. Many headsets require external tracking beacons such as HTC or Valve's Lighthouse system. These must be placed overhead and may be blocked accidentally by other players.

These fully self-contained systems can incorporate tracking cameras and computing power within the headset. They've been available only for a few years and the Oculus Quest, a Facebook-/Meta-exclusive, is primarily intended for home use. The Vive Focus 3 features a similar set of features to the Quest. However, it is tailored for businesses. This update strengthens HTC's long-standing presence in the VR location-based entertainment market and arcade market. This could make VR arcades that suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic more convenient and fun to visit.