HTC teams up with NVIDIA in VR development

TAIPEI (CNA) – Taiwan-based smartphone brand HTC Corp., which made inroads into the global virtual reality market by unveiling its first VR headset – the Vive – in 2015, has teamed up with American graphics chip designer NVIDIA Corp. in VR development.

In a statement released overnight, HTC announced at the GPU Technology Conference 2019, held in San Jose, California, that its new Vive Pro Eye model, which was introduced in January but has not hit stores yet, uses NVIDIA’s Variable Rate Shading (VRS) technology to cater to professional VR users.

The VRS technology increases rendering performance and quality by applying varying amount of processing power to different areas of the image.

“We’re continuing to see enterprise VR demands evolve, and Vive is meeting these demands for more toolsets within the headset,” Daniel O’Brien, General Manager in the Americas of HTC VIVE said in a statement.

“Coupled with NVIDIA VRS, integrated eye tracking in the new Vive Pro Eye delivers a host of features to take enterprise and location-based VR to an unprecedented level of impact, rapidly evolving what enterprise users can do in VR,” O’Brien added.

The Vive Pro Eye, a revised version of the Vive Pro, is equipped with eye-tracking hardware. The Vive Pro is an upgrade of HTC’s Vive.

With the eye-tracking hardware, the Vive Pro can be used to control using gaze-based interaction and cater to special needs from location-based entertainment, according to HTC.

While HTC has made plenty of efforts to develop its VR business in a bid to mitigate impact from escalating competition in the global smartphone market, sales generated from those operations remain a small fraction of the company, which has failed to boost its revenue significantly, market analysts said.

HTC turned a profit in 2018 because it disposed of its smartphone ODM assets to Google in the first quarter of that year to strengthen its bottom line, stopping a three-year losing streak.

Last year, HTC posted NT$12 billion (US$390 million) in net profit, or NT$14.72 per share, compared with a net loss of NT$16.91 billion, or NT$20.58 in loss per share, in 2017, while its consolidated sales fell to NT$23.74 billion, down 61.78 percent from the previous year, the seventh consecutive year of decline amid stiff global competition.

After NT$25.70 in earnings per share in the first quarter of 2018, HTC incurred NT$2.51, NT$3.16 and NT$5.31 in loss per share in the second, third and fourth quarters, respectively.

By Jiang Ming-yan and Frances Huang