Arrival of HTC Vive XR Suite acknowledges that immersive tech isn’t for everyone

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Vive XR Suite, built in partnership with ever present partner and Engage maker VR Immersive Education as well as a host of other developers, is designed to have a much broader appeal beyond users of VR headets

Quick read

➨ Vive XR Suite was developed in partnership with Engage maker Immersive VR Education, VirBELA, VRChat and Museum of Other Realities
➨ They will be complemented by Vive Events
➨ Free lite and premium versions of Vive XR Suite, with the latter offering enterprise/creator level capabilities and commercial use licences, will be available in Q3 2020

The story

HTC Vive has unveiled a cloud software solution combining tools for remote collaboration, productivity, events, socialising and cultural content called Vive XR Suite.

Vive XR Suite, announced earlier today physically in Shanghai and online through the Engage virtual events platform, is aimed at all users working and living under social distancing measures in a post-coronavirus (Covid-19) world.

Crucially, the suite of tools developed in partnership with Engage maker Immersive VR Education, VirBELA, VRChat and Museum of Other Realities (MOR) will be accessible via desktop, laptop and mobile devices.

This means the cloud software solution will have a much broader appeal beyond users of immersive hardware, although PC VR or standalone VR devices will deliver a “superior immersive experience”, according to HTC Vive.

The combined contributions of XR developers Immersive VR Education, VirBELA, VRChat and MOR will be known as Vive Sessions, Campus, Social and Museum, with HTC Vive’s new Sync service making up the fifth app of XR Suite.

They will be complemented by Vive Events, the new end-to-end virtual events service that HTC Vive will offer in partnership with leading events agencies and organisers from around the world.  

Vive Events will use XR Suite to “deliver all the benefits” of physical conferences, meetings and trade shows, with the convenience of video conferencing, “at a fraction of the price of traditional offline events”.

Free lite and premium versions of Vive XR Suite, with the latter offering enterprise/creator level capabilities and commercial use licences, will be available in Q3 2020, but beta versions of the components will be gradually rolled out over time.

The new solution is also designed to support the Vive Wave software development kit, ensuring compatibility with the Vive Wave ecosystem over time.

“With our announcement today, HTC Vive is reaffirming our commitment to the XR industry and enabling the world with a suite of mission critical software applications that are intended to make all our lives richer and more productive.”

Alvin Wang Graylin, HTC

Speaking at the event held in China and on Engage, Alvin Wang Graylin, China president at HTC, explained why the new tools are crucial to widespread adoption of XR: “The world has irreversibly changed in the last five months taking us all on an accelerated path towards a digital-first future. This video-centric ‘New Normal’ we are living will rapidly transition to the XR first ‘Next Normal’ that awaits us.”

“With our announcement today, HTC Vive is reaffirming our commitment to the XR industry and enabling the world with a suite of mission critical software applications that are intended to make all our lives richer and more productive.”

Central to Vive XR Suite will be the Engage platform, on which HTC Vive held an online conference in March. Since then, HTC has invested €3 million in its owner and operator, Ireland-based Immersive VR Education.

The recently announced VictoryXR Academy built on Engage
The recently announced VictoryXR Academy built on Engage

David Whelan, chief executive officer of Immersive VR Education, said: “We are delighted to be working closely with HTC as part of the Vive XR Suite to help apply bleeding-edge technology to solve the world’s pressing problems.”

“Partnering with Vive gives us access to the best XR technologies first to ensure our customers can receive the features they require to work and teach remotely inside VR.”

Vive Sync is the remote collaboration and meeting application for businesses and remote employees from HTC Vive. Announced in May, Vive Sync was built specifically for businesses to improve communication and productivity.

David Sapienza, vice president of content production at HTC, said: “I’m really happy to have Sync be part of the Vive XR Suite.”

“Combining multiple industry-leading solutions into one software suite will allow companies the flexibility to try different products, so they can evaluate the benefits of integrating XR solutions into their workflow without high cost or risk.”

VirBELA is a cloud-based enterprise application platform that supports a customised virtual office environment
VirBELA is a cloud-based enterprise application platform that supports a customised virtual office environment

VirBELA is a cloud-based enterprise application platform that supports a customised virtual office environment, online meetings for up to 2,500 people, and users can share and view various files at will.

Chief executive officer Alex Howland said: “VirBELA is proud to be part of the Vive XR Suite and provide a collaborative virtual environment to businesses of all sizes for remote work, learning, events and social engagement.”

VRChat will provide the social capabilities of Vive XR Suite

VRChat and MOR will provide the social and cultural capabilities of Vive XR Suite.

Graham Gaylor, chief executive officer and co founder of VRChat, said: “HTC and Vive played an instrumental role in creating and growing the consumer VR market world worldwide. Vive XR Suite will have a similar impact on the enterprise market and VRChat is excited to be part of the suite and help expand XR adoption to more of the world!”

Vistors exploring Immateria (2020) BY Isaac Cohen on MOR
Vistors exploring Immateria (2020) by Isaac Cohen on MOR

MOR is used by artists to conduct virtual art exhibitions and has just announced that it will cooperate with the Cannes Film Festival to operate its VR exhibition for 2020.

Robin Stethem, chief executive officer, said: “Over the last couple of years, MOR has worked closely with HTC to produce a virtual reality museum experience unlike anything in the world.”

“We are excited to have been selected to be part of the Vive XR Suite and help business users in ways they can’t imagine yet. We are very much looking forward to working with HTC to realise the ‘Next Normal’ in the coming years.”

Graylin of HTC continued: “We are extremely excited to be partnered with the best-in-class solutions providers to create this integrated software bundle. And we are so honoured to receive the industry-wide support from the channel and distribution partners we are announcing coop with today.”

“These partners represent the leading firms nationally and globally in their fields. By working together with so many leading companies, we are confident we will be able to make a real impact in accelerating VR adoption near term and ultimately enabling an XR-powered global workforce.”

HTC Vive is working with Baidu, HP, Burson Cohn & Wolfe, VSTECS and Activation Group to ensure the broad distribution and adoption of Vive XR Suite.

“Both parties will join forces to explore new developments in virtual reality technology and application, broaden the boundary of VR business services, create various immersive experience for consumers, explore the value of 5G and VR applications to service a broader market, and promote the growth of the VR ecosystem in the 5G era.”

Jie Ma, Baidu

In particular, Baidu, one of the largest internet companies in the world, will use Vive XR Suite to “provide more complete intelligent cloud solutions for our existing enterprise customers”, according to vice president Jie Ma.

Ma said: “Both parties will join forces to explore new developments in virtual reality technology and application, broaden the boundary of VR business services, create various immersive experience for consumers, explore the value of 5G and VR applications to service a broader market, and promote the growth of the VR ecosystem in the 5G era.”

Activation Group, meanwhile, will cooperate with Vive Events to jointly develop an offering in China to deliver experiential marketing and digital interactive solutions.

Steve Lau Kam Yiu, chief executive officer of Activation Group, said: “This strategic partnership with HTC Vive will allow the group to provide a new class of digital solutions by leveraging cutting edge XR technology to deliver astonishing marketing experience for our vast base of premium clients.”

“Activation Group aims to continuously exceed the expectations of its clients with interactive marketing services that utilise the latest technological breakthroughs.”

Main image: Vive XR Suite