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HTC One to rule them all

The launch of the HTC One (M9) heralded a leap forward for the Taiwanese company, but it is the news that they are making a dual attack on the increasingly popular fitness tracker and virtual reality worlds that has caught the industry’s interest.

HTC, HTC One (M9) Vive, Valve, Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Grip, Under armour, virtual reality, fitness tracker

HTC has partnered with gaming company Valve to create a virtual reality gaming headset called Vive. This headset will contain a 360-degree room tracking and refresh at a rate of 90 frames per second, meaning you shouldn’t feel disconcerted by lag when moving your head.

The headset will work with two HTC controllers that transform into a number of objects, such as remote controls or weapons in games. As HTC is in partnership with Valve, owners of gaming platform Steam and one of the world’s leading developers and publishers, the range of games should be excellent and varied. The developer edition is due to launch in the spring and HTC says that there will be a consumer version available before the end of 2015, bringing the world of virtual reality gaming to the masses.

HTC Grip and HTC One M9HTC’s other big launch is the Grip fitness tracker. This thin, waterproof wristband has been developed in partnership with American fitness clothing giant Under Armour and will provide huge amounts of vital feedback and data to both professional athletes and casual gym-goers alike.

The GPS-enabled device will track your runs, cycles and gym sessions, providing accurate details about your route, time, calories burned and many more. It also doubles as a sleep tracker so users can gain valuable information about the length and quality of their rest. Grip will be available in the USA in spring 2015.

HTC has made a huge statement of intent with these two product reveals as they are setting themselves up for a battle against some fairly established rivals. They have already made forays into the camera and speakers worlds with the HTC RE and the Harman Kardon One, but these were both areas they were fairly well known for.

When most people think about virtual reality, their minds will probably turn to either Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR. While neither of these have been commercially successful yet, they can still be considered market leaders and HTC has made a bold move in entering this market. However, they could not have picked a better partner than Valve, as just the announcement of their partnership drew a ripple of applause from the audience at the reveal. The raft of games at Valve’s disposal should give Vive users an endless supply of games to play. The controllers are an interesting addition, enabling users to immerse themselves more deeply in the virtual reality world.

Ken Birdwell of Valve said, “Our collaboration with HTC is driven by the companies’ shared desire to produce the most compelling and complete VR experience.”

Another string to Vive’s bow will be their collaboration with major companies such as HBO, Lionsgate and the National Palace Museum in Taiwan. Content from these suppliers will be part of the Vive experience, providing movies, TV and cultural experiences as well as the games mentioned before.

HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang said that she hoped the Vive will be the headset “that completely redefines how we entertain ourselves, communicate with each other, learn and, eventually, how we become more productive. HTC Vive is real, it’s here and it’ll be ready to go before the start of 2016.”

The Grip fitness tracker, meanwhile, will be taking on the might of Nike’s Fuelband as well as the likes of TomTom, FitBit and Samsung, all of whom have their own fitness trackers. Again, HTC has aligned itself well with Under Armour who are well known and respected in the USA and have an established network of athletes and fitness enthusiasts called UA Record.

HTC’s Drew Bamford said, “Our partnership with Under Armour has allowed us to direct our combined ambition, talent and passion towards developing new ways to empower athletes to make the most of their training every day.”

With their heavy-duty backers in Valve and Under Armour, it will be interesting to see if HTC can muscle its way into these competitive markets and establish itself as more than a smartphone manufacturer.

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